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Questions for the Second Finalist of the Young Conductors Award – Leo McFall

10 FEB 2014

published in: Concert

Leo McFall (Photo: Aiga Photography)
1) What does it mean for you to be a finalist of the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award?
It is a great honour. I am very much looking forward to working with the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg and Jan Lisiecki.

2) What do you associate with the words “Salzburg” and “Salzburg Festival”?
Mozart of course! But I also think of the many great musicians who have performed here. I am a great admirer of Sandor Vegh and love the recordings he made in Salzburg.

3) What is your professional motivation? Do you have role models? 
The guideline is always the music itself. Each piece has its own demands and is its own world. I have always had a thirst to be close to music and to be doing it, this is what drives me. I have been inspired by many wonderful musicians, most notably my first piano teacher. Later I was lucky enough to meet and work with Bernard Haitink and Gérard Korsten, who both go to the heart of the music in such a direct way.  I also try to keep in my inner ear many other musicians : the playing of Radu Lupu, the singing of Karita Mattila, the Takacs Quartet.  One can find inspiration everywhere!

4) What does music in general mean to you? What do you want to achieve in your life?
I feel incredibly lucky to be a musician, music means everything to me and has guided me throughout my life. It is above all an emotional experience for me, an emotional need. At the same time it requires enormous mental focus, physical fitness, language skills, everything! It is absolutely limitless, and there is always so much to work on and enjoy.

5) What was your most inspiring experience in your profession?
Conducting Dvorak's Rusalka, it is one of the most beautiful pieces I know and it was an incredibly special experience to perform it. 

Aged 33, the British conductor Leo McFall completed his master’s degree in conducting with Johannes Schlaefli at the Zurich Academy of the Arts. From 2007 to 2010 Leo McFall was assistant conductor at the Glyndebourne Festival, working with Edward Gardner, Jiří Bělohlávek and Harry Bicket. Leo McFall enjoys a particularly close cooperation with Bernard Haitink, whom he has assisted at concerts with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra. In 2009 he substituted for Bernard Haitink on the podium of the Chicago Civic Orchestra with great success. He has received scholarships from the German Music Council, among others, and attended courses with Herbert Blomstedt, Bernhard Kontarsky, Jun Märkl and Markus Poschner. Since 2012 Leo McFall has been First Kapellmeister at the Meiningen Theatre and since 2013 assistant conductor of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. The young conductor’s future schedule includes his debuts with the Spanish RTVE Orchestra, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra Ohio, the Janáček Philharmonic of Ostrava and various opera productions at the Meiningen Theatre.

Tickets for the concert on March 1, 7:30 p.m. are available at this link.