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Music Therapy Conversations

Dec 11, 2019

In episode 33 Luke talks to an old friend of his, the conductor John Wilson. John was born in Gateshead and studied composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, where in 2011 he was made a Fellow. Back in 1994, he formed his own orchestra, the John Wilson Orchestra, dedicated to performing music from the golden age of Hollywood and Broadway, and with whom he has appeared regularly across the UK, including at the BBC Proms annually since 2009. In March 2019, John was awarded the prestigious ISM Distinguished Musician Award for his services to music.

He is now in demand at the highest level all over the world, working with some of the finest orchestras and opera houses. In the UK, he performs regularly at festivals such as Aldeburgh, Glyndebourne and the BBC Proms with orchestras such as London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and City of Birmingham Symphony. Elsewhere, he has conducted the Royal Concertgebouw, Budapest Festival, Swedish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony orchestras amongst others. He made his opera debut in 2016 conducting Madam Butterfly at Glyndebourne Festival Opera on their autumn tour and has since conducted Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at English National Opera and returned to Glyndebourne Summer Festival to conduct Massenet’s Cinderella. John has a large and varied discography which includes a series of discs with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra exploring the works of Richard Rodney Bennett, with the BBC Philharmonic devoted to the symphonic works of Aaron Copland and numerous recordings with the John Wilson Orchestra. In 2019 Chandos released his first recording with the Sinfonia of London which features Korngold’s Symphony in F Sharp.

In this conversation we discuss John’s earliest musical experiences, then explore some big topics, such as the idea of artistic perfection, why songs are central to John’s musical world, the importance to him of community music making, and whether you can listen to Ewartung while brushing your teeth (Boulez thinks you can’t).