Charismatic HSO conductor to fly 6,983 miles in ultimate job swap

mag grid. Caption Harrogate insert, June 22, what's on ''Lilian Mina Concert. Bryan Western conducts The Harrogate Symphony Orchestra.
mag grid. Caption Harrogate insert, June 22, what's on ''Lilian Mina Concert. Bryan Western conducts The Harrogate Symphony Orchestra.
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The charismatic musical director of Harrogate Symphony Orchestra is getting ready to fly 6,983 miles for the ultimate job swap.

In two weeks’ time, Bryan Western will be stepping into the shoes of the conductor of one of Argentina’s leading orchestras in Buenos Aires.

His South American counter-part will repay the favour later in the year when he makes the opposite trip to lead the HSO in a concert in Leeds.

Bryan, who is married with children and lives in Knaresborough, said: “It’s a big step. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m working with his orchestra, then he’s working with mine. I’m very excited.”

It’s the first time since the the forward-winning HSO was created from its foundations as Harrogate Chamber Orchestra in 1991 that it has gained this degree of international recognition.

An unusually large and highly-regarded non-professional outfit, it’s all part of Western’s drive to increase the HSO’s profile and standards.

But there may just be one small problem when it comes to taking charge, albeit briefly, of the Orquestra de Camara for a special concert in Argentina’s capital city.

Bryan doesn’t speak Spanish.

The HSO stalwart, who has been in charge of the orchestra for more than 20 years, said: “The language barrier may be very interesting in that I don’t speak Spanish. It’s my first time of conducting a foreign orchestra abroad. I think they will probably speak enough English in Buenos Aires for it to work.”

The job swap which will see Western leading a programme of William Walton. Beethoven and John Barry, is taking place primarily because of his friendship with international musician Alberto Portugheis.

The acclaimed pianist, who performed Grieg’s Piano concerto in A minor with the HSO last year in the Royal Hall, will be a guest soloist at both the home and away fixtures of this long-distance exercise in musical collaboration.

Bryan said: “Alberto is quite an interesting character. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. His English is good but his translations can be very literal.

“I tried to explain to him we would be doing a piece by the late John Barry in Buenos Aires. He asked me what a man dancing with wolves had to do with a western movie!”

Bryan is happy to pass the baton to Argentinian conductor Alredo Corral when the HSO play at Leeds University on November 10.

This versatile HSO has already embraced digital social media, celebrity backers and, even, puppetry in its constant quest for growth and self-improvement.