Classical Spectacular with John Rigby

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Label Culture's Dominique Eguren had the opportunity to meet the British conductor John Rigby after his 'classical' spectacular' with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London's Royal Albert Hall.

I did not think that my night could get any better after having gone to see the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play at The Royal Albert Hall in London, but then I managed to get an interview with the conductor, John Rigby.  

The show was truly spectacular, and as promised in the title ‘Classical Spectacular’, was full of talent, passion, and elegance. There was surprise after surprise with dancers in the audience, special effects, canon’s blasting and fireworks! Though the spectacle was awe-inspiring, I was amazed at how recognizable all the songs were to so many people, but after all, they are classics, for a reason.

Of course they might not be songs you’d hear in Cogs or Fusion, but they are classics nonetheless, including Strauss’s Sunrise and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus (Messiah). The music was inspiring and emotional on all levels, and John Rigby’s stage presence enlivened the audience and the general atmosphere of English pride and appreciation in the way he presented each anthem. The audience cheered and waved the Union Jack, and I can personally confirm that tears of appreciation were rolling down cheeks.

If you have never seen opera live, add it to your bucket list, because after having witnessed Paul O’Neil’s performance of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma (Turandot) I can guarantee that it is a life altering experience. The sheer spirit and perfection in his voice was like seeing the potential of the human body when watching Olympic Gymnasts.

It’s unfortunate that students don’t tend to listen to classical music these days, especially because it is so much more approachable than the general consensus might believe. I asked John Rigby what he believes his personal contribution is as a conductor to these anthems. His reply: “to try to demystify them in some way and present them in a way that is accessible for people to appreciate, and realise that classical music needn’t be elitist, nor does it need to be dumbed down.”

For any of you who aspire to become a conductor or have anything to do with musical theatre, it might interest you to hear about the daily life of John Rigby. Although he enjoys a lazy morning before the show, after lunch he works until the end of the night, preparing and preforming two shows! Unbelievably, this might be the calmer half of his life, as he went on to outline his other responsibilities. A couple days after my interview, he travelled back and forth from Birmingham to move the Phantom of the Opera into the Hippodrome, and the next day to New York to work on the Jesus Christ Superstar tour, and later to Australia! Who’s to say that international business is the only route for a career with a promising travel job?

As we finished the interview and he autographed my programme, I asked him about what advice he might give to someone looking for a career in this industry. Besides knowing your material, he says that a lot of it is being able to work with people, and to grasp every opportunity. To work in musical theatre, you need all the experience you can. Don’t rush to become a conductor but try out different positions. You never know what is just around the corner.

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