How do you conduct a symphony orchestra? We asked one young conductor to take us through the basics

27 October 2017, 11:20 | Updated: 27 October 2017, 11:25

By Lizzie Davis

Santtu-Mathias Rouvali is Chief Conductor at the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden – and he’s only 30! He trained with Gustavo Dudamel and has already made a name for himself around the world. So we asked him to talk us through his trade.

Hi Santtu! So, first things first. How do you use the baton?

“This baton is meant to be the continuation of your hand. There’s no rule what the hand should do actually. The important thing is that you get yourself understood by the musicians.”

How do you make sure musicians come in at the right time? Say the trombones have had 35 bars rest…


How do you control the dynamics?


And how about tempo?


How do you use the rest of your body when you’re conducting?


Finally, what advice do you have for young conductors specifically? Is there anything they need to bear in mind? 


Santtu-Mathias conducts the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra throughout the year and most of the orchestra’s concerts are streamed live on GSO Play, available on the GSO website or their app.