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Pappano: My relationship with the LSO

‘I’ve always had a very close relationship with the Orchestra. But I want that relationship to deepen. I hope I surprise them. I know they’ll surprise me.’


By Sir Antonio Pappano

3-minute read

‘I feel enormously privileged to be starting the 2023/24 season as Chief Conductor Designate with the LSO. For a conductor, this is a dream position. I’m really very, very excited indeed.

So you come in with a whole raft of ideas and ‘no, we just did that’, ‘no, we’re doing that next year’ – there’s a lot of that. And then you find a groove and you find your repertoire. And what that means for me is many things, actually. From the person I am – I was born in England, grew up here until I was 13, moved to the States, Italian heritage, studied French, learned German, and have been in the opera field for many, many years – I have a lot of threads that are pulling at me, whether they be dramaturgical or musical or cultural. I think that you have to tap into these things, because that’s what will ultimately define you. It’s not about finding the next new thing for me. I want to do things that I really, really love – and, the hope is, that the Orchestra will really love with me.

I worked with the LSO for the first time in 1996, at Abbey Road Studio Number One. We were recording an opera. I’ll never forget putting down the first downbeat, and the Orchestra just exploding with activity and panache and derring-do. I thought I’d just gotten into a Ferrari and pushed the gas pedal down.

But it’s more than that. There’s an emotional intelligence that the Orchestra has. Two words from the conductor of guidance, explanation, and they’re off. They know exactly what the job is. I think this combination of virtuosity and intuitiveness – and, of course, incredible musicality, the incredible musicality of each member – put those ingredients together and you have something that is very, very special. And justly recognised in the world as so.

I’ve always had a very close relationship since then with the Orchestra. But I want that relationship to deepen. They know me very well. But I would like them to get to know different parts of me. And I hope I surprise them. I know they’ll surprise me, that’s for sure. Because they have that ability that they can do anything.

And hopefully, without talking too much, but just by giving hints, I can maybe get everybody to understand how I think and how I believe the journey going forward will look, and that we can share that together. And of course, eventually and inevitably, it’s the choice of repertoire that will excite them. But it’s also the way we perform that repertoire. The hope is that through the number of concerts in London and elsewhere on tour and throughout the world (because let’s not forget, the LSO is one of the major touring orchestras), that we can forge a personality that is really recognised as a personality, and not just a decent conductor conducting a great orchestra. This is my great hope, that we forge something that is identifiable as a brand.’

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