What’s a conductor’s instrument? The orchestra, or rather, the mind, the score? A stick?
It is not only since Disney’s Fantasia that conductors get compared to magicians, and conducting sticks to magic wands. Ever wondered where conductors get their batons from? One would like to imagine there’s a shop like Mr. Olivander’s Shop for Fine Wands from Harry Potter, only for batons. Give them a flick, or do some imaginary conducting of their favourite piece?
Jonathan Darlington has been supporting “Kleine Herzen” for more than a year now. The non-profit organization supports children living in economically disadvantaged countries.
“I am very excited about having the opportunity to give my wholehearted support to the kleine herzen organization. I can think of nothing more worthwhile than to be able to help and give to those who haven’t had the same good fortune in life as I have; especially children. What the foundation has achieved with very limited means and within such a short space of time is nothing short of miraculous. I can only admire the effort and dedication of all those involved and lend as much help and support as possible while encouraging others to do the same.”
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posted by JD, Jan 11 2010
Jonathan Darlington is music director of Vancouver Opera and was music director of the Duisburger Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002 until 2011. His passionate yet refined approach to music making has done much to increase the popularity and artistic quality of both orchestras.
The hallmark of his work is a charismatic enthusiasm and acute sensitivity with regard to orchestral colour and balance. He possesses a vast symphonic and operatic repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to the Contemporary and has a reputation for structuring programmes that take the listener on a fascinating musical journey owing to their strong inner dramaturgical thread.
He is fluent in several languages, at home in three countries and thrives on the music making that emerges as a result of the contact with different cultures and traditions. Whether on the concert platform or in the opera house, the list of world-class ensembles that Jonathan Darlington has conducted is impressive. Most recently these include the Staatskapelle Dresden, L’Orchestre National de France, the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Future invitations include his debut at the Wien Staatsoper and reinvitations to Opera Norway and Opera Australia as well as continuing his relationships with Dresden Semperoper, Frankfurt Opera, Deutsche Oper am Rhein and symphony orchestras in Montpellier and Bordeaux.
Jonathan Darlington began his career as a freelance pianist, chamber musician and repetiteur. Born in Lapworth near Birmingham, UK, he was a cathedral chorister at Worcester Cathedral and went on a music ‘exhibition’ to King’s School Worcester. He subsequently studied music at Durham University, (graduating with a BA honours degree), and then piano at The Royal Academy of Music in London.
After graduation he moved to Paris where, as a freelance pianist for Radio France, he worked with some of the most outstanding musical personalities of our time; Pierre Boulez – “Le Soleil des eaux”, Riccardo Muti – Verdi’s “Requiem”, Olivier Messiaen – “Trois Petites Liturgies” etc… His activities as an accompanist led him to work in several opera houses as a repetiteur – (Glyndebourne tour, L’Opéra de Nancy, Opera North) – and he became a founding member of the experimental French touring opera company ‘ARCAL’ for which he directed several productions.
During the same period he accompanied singing masterclasses at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Studies in Aldeburgh (England), where he worked with such renowned singers as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Ileana Cotrubas, Hugues Cuenod, Hans Hotter, Janet Baker and Peter Pears.
He made his conducting debut in 1984 at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, directing Francesco Cavalli’s “Ormindo” from the harpsichord. An important stepping-stone in his career was the Berlioz Festival Lyon, where he was assistant to Serge Baudo for“Les Troyens” in 1987, and later to John Nelson for “Benvenuto Cellini” (1989).
In 1990 Myung-Whun Chung engaged Mr. Darlington as assistant and subsequently as deputy to the music director at the Opéra de la Bastille, Paris, It was there that he made his acclaimed debut in 1991 with “Le nozze di Figaro”, starring a dream cast including Renée Fleming and Cecilia Bartoli. He remained with the Paris Opera as deputy music director until 1993, conducting productions of “Die Zauberflöte” and “Das Lied von derErde”. His “Swan Lake” with the Opéra de Paris was recorded for video in 1992.
His success at the Paris Opera led to numerous engagements with other orchestras and opera houses and he decided to return to the freelance world, this time as a conductor.
In 1996 he was invited to become part of the musical team at Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf – Duisburg) and in 2002 he was offered the position of Music Director of the Duisburger Philharmoniker. In the same year he also became Music Director of Vancouver Opera.
With both ensembles he has enjoyed a hugely successful relationship. With the Duisburger Philharmoniker that success was recently rewarded with the German Music Publisher’s prize for the best concert season 2009-10 and the Echo Klassic prize for the best concerto recording with Susanna Yoko-Henkel 2011. Earlier this year Jonathan Darlington received the ‘Mercartorplakette’ in honour of his services to music and cultural life in the city of Duisburg and the region and the coveted “Musikpreis der Stadt Duisburg in Verbindung mit der Köhler-Osbar-Stiftung” for 2011. Past recipients include Yehudi Menuhin, Alfred Brendel, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Werner Henze, Krzysztof Penderecki, Pina Bausch etc.
Jonathan Darlington is both a “Laureate (LRAM) and “Fellow” (FRAM) of the Royal Academy of Music, London and as a French resident is proud to hold the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Why become a conductor? In my case. I never set out to do this and, like some of the best things in life, it was an accident. Taking over performances successfully at short notice launched my career. That was the easy part! The difficult part came afterwards: learning how to work with different groups of individuals is a lifetime’s journey. I’m still on the curve! I can still vividly remember the daunting feeling the first time I rehearsed with a famous orchestra as more or less a complete novice. I guess I followed Sir George Solti’s maxim that if you have the fire in the belly, “never give up”.