Back in March, BBC Radio 3 ran a Comic Relief competition, in which the prizes were opportunities to conduct BBC ensembles. All you had to do was answer a simple question about the original use of Maida Vale Studios (a roller-skating rink): correct respondents were put into a hat and the winners drawn at random. Although I didn’t win the ‘first prize’ (conducting the BBC Singers in the Hallelujah Chorus live on Radio 3 on Comic Relief day), I was lucky enough to win a ‘runners-up’ prize, and chose to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra in rehearsal.
It took a while to arrange a mutually convenient time but eventually, on Wednesday 22nd June, I travelled up to LSO St.Luke’s, where the Orchestra were rehearsing for a concert they were giving in Plymouth the following weekend. When Gavin Sutherland had finished his part of the rehearsal, I mounted the rostrum to conduct Sullivan’s overture to The Yeomen of the Guard. The first run was good, but not quite at the speed I intended: my total lack of experience conducting orchestras was very apparent! After a brief chat, the second run was much more satisfactory.
Following my exploits, BBC producer Matthew Walker recorded a short interview with me, which was broadcast during Afternoon on 3 the following Friday. He also made recordings of both run-throughs, which he has now kindly sent me; so here, if you’re interested, is how it went!