x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Baton charge by a young maestro: Robin Ticciati

To watch this floppy-haired youngster control a world-class orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with such poise makes one wonder how he does it..

Britain's Boy Wonder of the classical music scene, Robin Ticciati, made his West Coast debut this week. The 26-year-old, who in 2005 became the youngest conductor ever to perform at La Scala, conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. His pianist was another wunderkind, Germany's Lars Vogt, who played the Norwegian composer Grieg's Piano Concerto. The programme also included Sibelius's King Kristian II Suite, the contemporary Finnish conductor Magnus Lindberg's Chorale and Elgar's Enigma Variations.

"The only thing that makes one a good conductor is if the notes are in your body, they're in your soul," he told the Los Angeles Times this week. So passionate was the performance he elicited that at times I could imagine I was in Berlin listening to the Berliner Philharmonic. But, as sensational as it was to hear the concert, it was also a wonder to watch Ticciati and to see such a youthful face commanding the rows of balding orchestra members, playing to a house of white-haired classical music fans who rose to their feet for several standing ovations.

To watch this floppy-haired youngster control a world-class orchestra with such poise makes one wonder how he does it. "The first thing is to be honest to the music, to the notes and not what anyone is thinking," Ticciati told the LA Times. "Because as a young conductor, when you stand up in front of an orchestra for the first time, it's so easy to think: 'What are they thinking of me?' And the whole point is that it's completely rubbish. It's what they're thinking about the music you're doing."

Robin, the son of a barrister, Oliver Ticciati, and his therapist wife Rosie, was born in London and read music at Cambridge University. His grandfather was a composer and arranger, and the boy trained as a violinist, pianist and percussionist before turning to conducting at the age of 15 with Britain's National Youth Orchestra, under the guidance of Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Colin Davis. Tomorrow, he makes his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, again conducting Sibelius, Grieg and Lindberg.

Earlier this month he made his Canadian debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Last year, he became the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and this autumn, he will become the principal guest conductor of Germany's Bamberger Symphoniker. He is equally comfortable with opera: Ticciati will return to La Scala in 2012 to conduct Britten's Peter Grimes. Since January 2007 he has been the music director of the British opera company Glyndebourne on Tour, and his operatic projects there have included Verdi's Macbeth and Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel.

Ticciati is a regular with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. He made his American debut in 2008 in New York at the Lincoln Centre's Mostly Mozart Festival.