The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be back in town to get the Bexhill Festival of Music of to a swinging start at the De La Warr Pavilion on June 1, and conductor of the concert Brian Wright, who lives in Bexhill, speaks exclusively to the Observer.
Brian first conducted the world renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) at a London Music Festival in 1977, and the following year joined them for a BBC Prom. Since then he’s conducted the RPO regularly throughout the UK, toured Greece, and in 2001 conducted them in China, including at the prestigious Shanghai Festival.
Brian and wife Sue have lived in Bexhill for seven years and he says they have become very attached to the town even though transport links leave much to be desired. He said: “We love it here! Although the train journey to London is a bore. Bring on Hi-Speed and a dual carriageway for ‘all’ of the A21!”
Brian said Sue is really into the local community, particularly as Chairman of Bexhill Choral Society, and he’s known Bexhill all his life. “It’s where my Dad grew up. My grandparents lived in Parkhurst Road. So I’ve great – and not so great – memories of family seaside holidays here when I was a lad; grandma’s hand-knitted swimming trucks got very soggy and tended to fall down, and I heard my first big orchestra play at the De La Warr Pavilion (DLWP) when I was about 10.”
Brian said he’s thrilled to be back conducting the RPO on his home turf. “Of course, it’s great to be back here conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to open the 2014 Bexhill Festival of Music, which I also did last year.
“When we moved here I was very struck by how little professional classical music there was in the area. I chatted to Tony Mansi, Chairman of the Bexhill Festival of Music, and we invited Ian Maclay, Managing Director of the RPO, down to look at possibilities at the DLWP.
“It was a glorious day, with Bexhill looking at its best and hoards of people about, and he was smitten. Ian committed some of the RPO’s Arts Council touring grant and last year Bexhill responded magnificently, filling the hall.”
Brian said despite all the support, the concert unfortunately made a loss, adding: “I think no-one had factored in quite how many ‘concessions’ would be taken up. Professional music-making is a seriously expensive undertaking. I’m thrilled that Tony Mansi has found extra sponsorship to allow us to do it once more this year.”
Brian has been a professional conductor for 40 years, since he won second prize in an important competition for young conductors with the London Symphony Orchestra and became André Previn’s Assistant. He then went on to be Associate Conductor with the BBC and of all of its orchestras.
Brian said the RPO concert at the DLWP, when they perform The Great Classics, promises to be as spectacular as last year’s Tchaikovsky concert. “We’ve a great programme, with a star young pianist, Tom Poster, playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto, along with Dvorak’s well-loved ‘New World’ Symphony.
“So come on Bexhill, fill the hall again and we’ll be back next year.”
Tickets £17-£32 at: www.dlwp.com or 01424 229111.