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In Conversation with the First of Three Finalists of the Young Conductors Award – Ben Gernon

29 APR 2013

published in: Concert, Whitsun, General

Ben Gernon (Photo: Kevin Leighton)
1) What does it mean for you to be finalist of the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award?
To be a finalist in the Nestle and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award is a huge privilege and honour. I am so excited to have the opportunity to perform in Salzburg with Camerata Salzburg, playing music I am really passionate about. It was a really nice surprise to learn I had a place in the final round and I can't wait to meet and start rehearsing with the orchestra! I feel very lucky indeed!
2) What comes in your mind if you hear the words: Salzburg and Salzburg Festival?
Salzburg and Salzburg Festival always brings excellence, world class and prestigious to my mind. I am also reminded of Mozart's birthplace and the historical beauty and importance that Salzburg holds for all musicians. The richness of culture and commitment to the highest level of music performance is particularly striking, exhilarating and inspiring.
3) What is your musical guideline, what drives you in your career? Do you have a role model?
My only drive to be a conductor is my passion and dedication for music and the desire to share that with everyone. I feel that music is the most exciting and captivating pleasure in our world and its ability to communicate with everyone regardless of language is stratospherical. Music is vital to our being and I feel so lucky to share it with everyone.
4) What does music in general mean to you? What do you want to achieve in your life?
I have many role models both in the musical world and outside. I have been particularly fortunate to have been mentored by Sian Edwards, Sir Colin Davis and Valery Gergiev. Sian Edwards has been the most supportive, practical, honest and inspiring teacher and I greatly admire her outlook and technique- it is flawless and she is always there for me at the end of the phone! She has been the biggest single influence on my journey as a young conductor. Sir Colin Davis has taught me a lot about breathing and feeling music naturally- not being restricted by bar lines and finding beauty in every single note in the score. He is an extremely honest and open man and I am so grateful for all his guidance. Equally, Valery Gergiev is a musical beast, consumed by his overwhelming musical desire and I adore his performances- so full of adrenaline, intensity and beauty. He is stunning to watch and he has really stretched my imagination.
5) What was your most inspiring experience in your profession?
It is really difficult to say what has been the most inspiring experience of my profession, and I think it is a collection of many experiences with my role models. I am particularly inspired by the London Symphony Orchestra and I have been really lucky to conduct them in a masterclass with Sir Colin and in the final of the Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition. That was a whirlwind experience and I learnt so much about myself and the music I wish to make. It was so rewarding and exciting! Equally, I have just been working with Gustavo Dudamel who is an immense inspiration- his energy, imagination and ideas are phenomenal (and he's so friendly!)