The very model of a modern English music director

From Richard Bratby’s Spectator interview with Alpesh Chauhan, new chief of Birmingham Opera:

…. He’s a born Midlander; a state school boy from Handsworth Grammar, still young enough at 30 to feel rooted in a community where attending (let alone performing in) an opera is about as normal as a mission to Mars. Yet it nearly didn’t happen: he made his BOC debut as last-minute maternity cover for Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. ‘When I started getting my hands dirty with Lady Macbeth Graham Vick announced to the chorus, “You’re going to meet the conductor today”, and I felt as nervous as when I first conducted the London Symphony Orchestra,’ he remembers. ‘So I stepped up and said, “Look, I’m a Brummie; I’m from round here. I love what this company does and we’re going to do something really extraordinary with one of the hardest operas in existence.”’ They did, too — the production beat the Royal Opera to win the 2019 RPS Opera & Music Theatre Award….

Read on here.


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  • I for one am a huge fan of this rising talent. We need more folks like Alpesh in charge of where this industry is going. After the havoc wreaked by the COVID in 2020, this is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

  • “an Arts Council wonk in the audience demanded to know why the orchestra wasn’t playing music that was ‘relevant to him’. For Chauhan, that’s a mentality, and a way of looking at the musical world, that doesn’t seem particularly, well, relevant.”

    What a horrifying thing to say. It is, of course, racism by the back door–racism hidden behind a mask of “relevance” and “his heritage”. People obsessed by such notions love to imprison people–“No Beethoven for you, black boy–what’s relevant to you is Trinidadian steel bands–that’s your HERITAGE”–steering them into life-courses on account of their skin-colour. Good luck to Mr Chauhan. I have heard him at the BBCSSO and was very impressed.

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