Thomas recently sat down with Kate Molleson of The Herald Scotland to discuss his debut season as Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and his admiration for the nation and its folk music.
IT IS EARLY morning in Munich and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s future chief conductor is telling me in animated detail about a wild night he spent in Orkney a couple of years ago. He was there to conduct at the St Magnus Festival and, as is the way, had found himself at the after-hours folk club. “The Wrigley Sisters were performing to a big crowd,” he recalls. “The fiddler would add her own little twists and ornaments to the tunes and the crowd would roar. I was blown away!” He closes his eyes and holds his hands aloft as if reliving the experience. “Your folk music is so deeply rooted and so alive that people could actually tell the difference in her interpretation. In my country you would need a very specialist audience to get a reaction like that, but in Orkney there was a crowd of hundreds — I mean, that’s not a specialist audience any more,” he beams. “It’s basically people!”
Dausgaard’s morning energy is impressive. The previous night he conducted the Munich Philharmonic and Choir in a long Bruckner programme — an exquisitely hushed Ave Maria, a lucid, luminous Second Symphony — and from where I was sitting at the side of the stalls I could see every expression of rapture and exuberance on his face, every long-limbed gesticulation, every waggle of athletic eyebrows. This is a man who seems to make music and talk about music with entirely unselfconscious enthusiasm. During the concert a press release went out announcing his contract renewal as Principal Guest Conductor with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra through 2020. “A scary number of emails were waiting for me when I got back to my hotel room,” he says, momentarily less elated. “It’s great news, of course. It just made for a rather late night.”
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