Simon Rattle plans ‘a star power’

British conductor Simon Rattle called for a new concert hall in London to make the city more competitive on the international music scene, as he takes up his baton at the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).
He threw his weight behind a £280 million (324 million euro, $347 million) project aimed at creating a “Centre for Music” equipped for the digital era.
The plans involve building a new hall on the site of the Museum of London, which is relocating nearby, which would become the new home of the LSO.
The City of London Corporation, which governs the financial heart of the city, has since said it will make up the shortfall.
But Rattle admitted there was still “an enormous amount of fundraising to do”.
The conductor said his opening season would draw on the “goldmine” of British composers.
Rattle, the outgoing chief conductor of the prestigious Berliner Philharmoniker, will take up his new role as music director of the LSO in September and will be running both orchestras concurrently for the 2017-2018 season.
“I’m doing the insane thing for one year that I promised I would never do in my life, run two orchestras at the same time,” Rattle told a news conference in London.
“I hope the season is like a tapas bar of the type of things I have in mind,” he said of his plans for the LSO.
The London Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1904 by Adolf Borsdorf, Thomas Busby, John Solomon and Henri van der Meerschen. The orchestra has been based in London, England’s world famous Barbican Centre since 1982 and have been described as “The Perfect Film Orchestra”.
From the very beginning, The LSO has been shaking things up, as they were formed after 50 members of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra rebelled against an edict that none of the players in the orchestra could send a deputy to a performance or rehearsal if needed.
Thomas Busby, a horn player who had left the Queen’s Hall, conceptualised a new form of orchestra, a “musical republic” in his words where each of the players got an equal cut of each season’s profits. The new orchestra played its first concert on June 4, 1904, and was conducted by none other than Hans Richter. They then toured for most of the following year, conducted by another legend in the form of Sir Edward Elgar.
The season will range from challenging contemporary works and new commissions by young composers to old favourites by the likes of Edward Elgar, Leonard Bernstein, Claude Debussy, Dmitri Shostakovich and Ludwig van Beethoven.
The season will culminate with a performance of German modernist Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gruppen”, a work for 120 musicians divided into three orchestras, in the monumental Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery, a former power station.
An instantly recognisable figure with his shock of white curls, Rattle, 61, is one of the biggest names in classical music.
He has worked with the LSO many times as a guest conductor. They reached an audience of hundreds of millions when they performed Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics with comedy character Mr Bean.
Rattle brings star power to the 113-year-old LSO as it tries to get a proposed new concert hall off the ground. The project is costed at £278 million ($345 million), a daunting sum at a time of government budget austerity and economic uncertainty.
The orchestra is currently based at the Barbican Centre, which is considered by music lovers to have too small a stage and flawed acoustics.
“It’s very clear that we can do a lot of wonderful work in the Barbican, but it’s also clear that there’s about 20 per cent of the repertoire that we can’t,” Rattle said.
The project to build a new venue suffered a setback in November when the government pulled funding for a business plan to be completed by 2018, but the City of London corporation, which runs the financial district, announced last week it would plug the gap.
“There are so many questions. It’s an if not a when,” Rattle said of the proposed new venue, adding that the project was “terribly important”.