Daniel Harding pilots to new post as music director in Rome

Streaming HUBMarch 8, 2023

MILAN (AP) – When conductor Daniel Harding lands in Rome to take on the role of music director at one of the world’s oldest music institutions, there’s a chance he could pilot the plane.

The 47-year-old British conductor has a second career as an Air France pilot, earning his private and commercial pilot licenses after turning 40 to satisfy a lifelong “curiosity and passion”.

“I found that flying and a different discipline, a different way of working helped me as a composer, a conductor and a person,” Harding told The Associated Press on Monday ahead of the announcement of his new post at The Accademia Nazionale. . di Santa Cecilia Orchestra, starting in the fall of 2024.

He took over from Antonio Pappano, who would go on to become chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Harding made an unusually young debut as a conductor, and after 18 years as principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra – listed by BBC Music Magazine as one of the world’s top 20 – in the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Will reach The gigs will overlap for a year.

By his own reckoning, he is still learning the role of conductor.

“Conducting is the ultimate long game. It doesn’t matter what you do in your 20s, early 30s. It’s about trying to find a way to be a real conductor in your 60s.” There’s a long way to go, Harding said.

Harding said it took a “very, very long time” to learn how to balance a musician’s need for freedom with applying discipline “to make something coherent and tight”. “I think we all try to do interesting and hopefully beautiful things along the way.”

Breaking his schedule with flying for Air France eight or nine days a month helps him change his focus. “I think all conductors should spend a few months a year as a normal employee, as part of a team, serving others,” he said. “It’s great!”

Harding’s parents were both amateur musicians “very keen that children should enjoy music,” he said. He was just 16 when he conducted concerts with Simon Rattle, who took him under his wing after receiving tapes of the teen conducting the school orchestra. He introduced me to the guys and he said, ‘When I met Daniel I saw him act and I decided I had two choices. I can help him, or I can kill him,” Harding said.

He soon became an assistant to Claudio Abbado, who conducted the Berlin Philharmonic at the age of just 21. Daniel Barenboim — who worked for Harding’s father at La Scala last month after he fell ill — has shared valuable advice.

“Barenboim told me that when you start operating full time, when you’re operating every week, it’s going to take you 15 years before you start to understand what you’re doing. Starting over. It’s such a The tricky thing is how you harness this incredible potential and potential that you have around you in the orchestra,” Harding said.

Harding would begin his tenure with Santa Cecilia with a concert performance of Tosca, which he called “the most Roman of operas”. It is one he has not conducted before, and so will “learn from the language and language of the orchestra” and the experience of the orchestra. And it’s very exciting.

He is also planning a Mahler cycle, the composer said he has conducted most, and with several orchestras, “so the composer is where I feel I have the most perspective on the music.”

As he leaves his mark on Santa Cecilia, Harding plans to take advantage of the layers of Rome’s history as a backdrop. This includes belting out the Santa Cecilia Chorus with sacred repertoire such as the Mozart Requiem in the city’s basilica.

He also seeks to work on artistic themes to come up with new ways of representing classical music for Roman audiences, “to face the different ages and eras and see what the contrasts teach us.”

Harding said, “We have to find repertoire that is nourishing and interesting for us, for the musicians, and for our public.”

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