Albert Hall, London tomorrow night at 7.30pm; and in Birmingham's
Symphony Hall on 3 Sep at 7.30pm
Back in 1988 a young and up-and-coming American, Andrew Litton, was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The gamble more than paid off. Litton stayed in Bournemouth for six years and transformed that orchestra's fortunes by making them a truly international sounding outfit. Then New Yorker Litton returned to native soil to work his spell on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and it is with his new band that he now embarks on a first major European tour, taking in an evening at the Proms, as well as a further date in Birmingham.
"I'm very excited about the prospect of coming back," he says, "to show you what we can do." With a native American repertoire too, for in London and Birmingham the orchestra includes Ray Harris's 3rd Symphony and Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto in its programme. "American music has always appealed to me," Litton says. "Perhaps because it's still all so relatively new. American musical history was only born a hundred years ago which is more or less how old the Dallas Symphony Orchestra itself is. And the Harris and the Barber are two modern classics of their respective types - a powerful and gritty Symphony and a mellifluous and elegiac Violin Concerto."
What does Litton think he had brought to his Dallas job? "Enthusiasm, zest, commitment and a few new ideas. Hopefully, I'm consolidating the orchestra's existing reputation whilst looking to expand. Lots of conductors do all sorts of things to try and make their orchestras sound better, so they want their strings to play like Vienna, their woodwind like Berlin and their brass like Chicago, or what have you. To my way of thinking if one does that, you just end up with a mess. I want the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to sound like the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and I do that by simply trying to get everyone playing to the best of their considerable abilities, all the time."
EYE ON THE NEW
More potentially very exciting American music lies in store in Tuesday's Prom when the BBC Symphony orchestra, under Oliver Knussen, gives the eagerly awaited European premiere of the final panel of Elliott Carter's orchestral triptych, his Allegro scorrevole. Another of this very packed concert's highlights should be the London premiere of what amounts to a Double Trumpet Concerto from Mark-Anthony Turnage, entitled Dispelling the Fears, with virtuosi Hakan Hardenberger and John Wallace as the duelling soloists.
Royal Albert Hall, 25 Aug, 7.30pm