We were thrilled to have you presenting the first BSO livestream concert back in September…what did it mean to you to be with us for the start of our journey?
It was an honour to be involved with something so important for both audience and Orchestra — music being seen and heard live as it was being performed, albeit missing the great BSO audience in the hall itself. To see the joy on the faces of the BSO musicians working together again – making music, was very special – I’ll never forget it.
Alongside your BBC Radio 3 work, you have enjoyed a varied career as a performer and have conducted throughout the world. Tell us more…
Broadcasting came about accidentally really. I spent most of my twenties leaning my trade as a repetiteur and conductor in German Opera Houses. I decided to have a go at professional acting and did the post graduate course at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School — a wonderful year. Although I went back to music, my acting experience has been a big help in working with singers in Opera Houses. Among other jobs I was chorus master and conductor at Australian Opera and ENO, and Head of Music and conductor at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen. I enjoyed equally conducting for many smaller Companies, not least for the Carl Rosa, with whom I toured Gilbert and Sullivan round the world. Although the majority of my arm waving has been in opera houses, I loved working with the BBC Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in concert hall and recording studio. I’m now music director for the G and S Company, Tarantara.
Having broadcast on so many live events what’s been the most challenging situation you’ve found yourself in?
Broadcasting the Last Night of the Proms for the BBC World Service immediately after 9/11. It was important not to be overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion, and to remember all the varying sensitivities of the different nations hearing my words. It was absolutely exhausting, but a great privilege to try to convey the atmosphere on that night round the world.
Any highlights of your BSO livestream experience to date?
The feeling of teamwork— the small, dedicated, incredibly talented group of people producing the sound and vision for the Livestreams has been such a pleasure to work with. I also enjoyed CEO Dougie Scarfe dog sitting my puppy, Maisie — true multitasking!
You can hear Martin presenting our recent concert, The Song of Nature, available to view on demand for 30 days after the original performance until 7.30pm (GMT) on Friday 11 June 2021.