Introducing Lionel Bringuier

We get to know more about the conductor, who makes his LSO debut on 21 February – from making history in LA to his collaborations with pianist Yuja Wang.

His conducting talent was spotted at a young age…

A natural on the podium, Lionel made his conducting debut at 14. In 2005 at the age of 19 he was unanimously awarded top prize, the Prix du Public, as well as the top vote of the musicians of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, at the 49th International Besançon Conducting Competition.


… but he started out as a cellist

‘I was born in the south of France,’ Lionel said in an interview in 2014. ‘I loved going to concerts, to the opera house with my family. My first cello teacher was a member of the orchestra in Nice. I was five years old. Sometimes he would take me to rehearsal. When I was 13 I entered the Paris Conservatoire as a cellist. There was an optional class — An Initiation to Conducting. I loved it. As a cellist, I never wanted to be a soloist, I always wanted play with the others.’

His talents got him into the history books in LA

In 2007 he was selected from thousands of applicants to serve under Esa-Pekka Salonen as Assistant Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. At the age of 20 he became the youngest person to take up the role in the orchestra’s history, and the youngest person to conduct at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Photo: Simon Pauly]

‘I’ve always been so thankful for the trust they put in me as a young conductor. I don’t know many orchestras who would hire an unknown French conductor when I was only 20 years old. The focus was always on the music,’ Lionel said in an interview.

After his big break, impressive appointments have followed around the world. Lionel embarked on a three-season tenure as Music Director of Spain’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León in 2009, and in 2011 he was promoted to Resident Conductor of the LA Philharmonic by Gustavo Dudamel. In 2012 he was then named Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, and this season he is Associate Artist with the Orchestre National de Lyon.

He’s good friends and a regular collaborator with pianist Yuja Wang

Lionel and Yuja first worked together in 2008, when she stepped in at the last minute in Stockholm for a performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 2. Since then they have performed all over the world and recorded an album of Ravel’s Complete Works on Deutsche Grammophon. In an interview in 2015, he remarked, ‘You know, last season we calculated that I played more than 30 concerts just with her’. Watch Yuja talking about their collaborations here:

 

 

He’s also a Knight!

In May 2017 Lionel Bringuier was honoured as a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the French government. The award is considered the highest honour in France, and was given for his achievements as a conductor, pianist and cellist. Other recipients of the honour include actor Gérard Depardieu, conductor Sir John Barbirolli, President Charles de Gaulle and the Duchess of Cornwall!

He has a special affinity with the music of Dutilleux

One work that Lionel has developed an affinity for over the course of his career is Henri Dutilleux’s Métaboles, which he’ll be conducting on 22 February. He explains, ‘Métaboles is fascinating. For me, it’s one of the masterpieces from the second half of the 20th century and I love to perform it. The orchestration is amazing. Dutilleux knows exactly how to use the different sections of the orchestra and how to use the sound in the hall.’


Catch Lionel Bringuier conducting Dutilleux’s Métaboles, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé and Brahms’ Violin Concerto with soloist Alina Ibragimova on Wednesday 21 February at Colston Hall in Bristol, Thursday 22 February at the Barbican Hall and Friday 23 February at the Vienna Konzerthaus.