'Simon Rattle is not afraid to say what he thinks about the state of music education – he's great for music in the UK'

28 July 2017, 09:38

By Amy MacKenzie

Gareth Davies is Chairman and Principal Flautist of the LSO and he spoke exclusively to our presenter Anne-Marie Minhall about the orchestra's new music director, Sir Simon Rattle.

"When it was announced that he was going to be the music director, I can’t think of anybody else in classical music who would get their picture of the front page of The Times. The impact that it’s had on us is amazing. We’ve had fantastic conductors: Sir Colin Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, Valery Gergiev – but I don’t think there’s been somebody who’s been so visible to people who are outside classical music since the LSO had Andre Previn in the 1970s."

Gareth Davies playing Debussy's 'Prélude à l'après midi d'un Faune' with the London Symphony Orchestra

"I had to explain to people what I did in the LSO to people who didn’t know. It was always ‘we played Star Wars’, and then it was ‘we played at the Olympics with Mr Bean’ and now you say you play in the LSO and people say ‘that’s Simon Rattle!’ 

"These are people who perhaps wouldn’t know any other conductors – but obviously he’s quite recognisable in his appearance."

Sir Simon Rattle conducting the first movement Mahler's Symphony No. 6 with the London Symphony Orchestra

"The orchestra is really excited. We’ve been working with him quite a lot and he takes a great interest in what we do even when he’s not here."

In partnership with Newham Music and Hackney Music Service, Music in the Classroom is a year-long hands-on programme for Primary teachers and pupils in East London, regardless of musical or teaching experience. 

"He’s not scared to do different things. We’re doing a performance of Stockhausen’s Gruppen at the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern next season; we’ve got students coming on stage playing with us from the Guildhall School next door; we’ve just finished our third community opera which uses loads of people from the local community and professional singers; and everything we do with him feels like a real event."

LSO On Track is the London Symphony Orchestra's programme for young musicians in the 10 East London boroughs

"He’s great for the LSO, but actually he’s great for music in Britain. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks about the state of music education and I think to have somebody like that at the front of the LSO feels amazing. It’s amazing to be in the LSO right at this moment in time. It’s a fantastic moment."

You can listen to the London Symphony Orchestra's episode of Backstage Pass this Saturday 29th July at 9pm.