Will anyone be able to follow Sir Colin Davis?

Sir Colin Davis died this week. Miranda Kiek asks what made him great, and looks at the young conductors hoping to match his mighty example

By the time of his death Sir Colin Davis had served as chief conductor of the British Symphony Orchestra; music director of the Royal Opera House; the principal guest conductor of both the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic; the only ever conductor laureate of the Dresden Staatskapelle; and, of course, the principal conductor and the president of the London Symphony Orchestra. He is acknowledged to be one of the most significant conductors of his generation and, as the laudatory outpouring following his death has made abundantly apparent, those who knew him seemed to have loved the man as much as they revered the musician.

So what was Davis's secret? What can a young conductor learn from him? According to Andrew Marriner, the London Symphony Orchestra's principal clarinettist, alongside his passion for the pieces he chose to conduct, it was Davis's ability to render the act of musical creation, “entirely collaborative” that marked him out. “While you always understood who was in charge, he had this knack of making you feel like you were the person who was allowed to make the music. You find occasionally people want to play your instrument for you… it was a real treat to know that you could be part of the process as well.”

Davis, then, was no selfish maestro: “His extraordinary insight into the music transferred itself to you… that was the trick – he made you a better player.”

The next generation

Ryan Wigglesworth

Wigglesworth, 34, has conducted some of England's key orchestras – including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. A recording of Birtwistle's orchestral works with the Hallé netted him the accolade of Time Out New York's disc of the year. The Independent praised his interpretation of Carmen for being as “mesmerising” as Bizet's melodies.

Daniel Harding

Harding is living proof of how a decibel of audacity can crescendo into a deafening success. Twenty years ago an excessively youthful Harding, now 38, sent a tape of himself conducting Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire to Sir Simon Rattle and, as a consequence, he was summoned by Rattle to act as his assistant at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Harding managed to have conducted the Berlin Philharmonic by the tender age of 21 and in 1996 he became the youngest-ever conductor to appear at the Proms. Harding is currently the principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Robin Ticciati

Ticciati, 30, became the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra five years ago when he was only 26. Like Harding, he counts Rattle as one of his mentors. Clearly his influence extends beyond the musical – Ticciati boasts a head of curls to rival the maestro's own.

Nicholas Collon

Another curly-haired young conductor, Collon, 30, was friends with Ticciati at Cambridge University. Together they founded the highly successful Aurora Orchestra – a musical enterprise for which Collon still acts as principal conductor.

Jessica Cottis

Her name may ring bells thanks to her appearance as DJ Trevor Nelson's mentor in the BBC series Maestro at the Opera. Cottis, 34, is the sole female on this list of young conductors, and also the only one not to have attended either Oxford or Cambridge. This trend-breaking tendency is reflected in her musical repertoire – she is becoming increasingly well-known as a conductor of new and contemporary music.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam