IDAGIO meets ... Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward (© Jeremy Ayres Fischer)

Get to know conductor Jonathon Heyward ahead of his LSO debut on 30 September with this guest blog from IDAGIO. Read the interview in full in their magazine here

Jonathon's concert of Dvořák & Stravinsky can be streamed live via the IDAGIO Global Concert Hall, and will also be available to watch on demand for 48 hours after. Click here to find out more and buy your digital ticket. 

Jonathon Heyward is Chief Conductor Designate of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie and has been hailed as one of the most exciting conducting talents of his generation. On September 30 he makes his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducting a programme, available to watch exclusively in IDAGIO's Global Concert Hall, featuring Dvořák's ever-popular "New World" Symphony and Stravinsky's neo-classical Pulcinella Suite. IDAGIO's Hugo Shirley caught up with him to talk about the concert, communicating to audiences and the essential role of music education. 

How does it feel to be making your LSO debut in these unusual times?  

It's the first concert I've done since March 6, and that was at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, with my orchestra, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie. I feel very lucky, and am glad that we have a rehearsal especially to get used to the social distancing, which of course is something that the orchestra is adapting to, and which I very much have to adapt to as well.  

Why did you choose these two works, Dvořák's "New World" Symphony and Stravinsky's Pulcinella?  

I find both works have a sense of looking back while also projecting forward to modern ideas. For the Pulcinella it's obvious that Stravinsky is looking back to Pergolesi and modernizing the original ideas from Pergolesi's opera. But he does it so cleverly, in such an amazing way, that it enhances the drama – and not only in the suite, which we're doing, but in the complete ballet. He really, for me, gets to the core of the drama of this comic story of Pulcinella. 

The Dvořák continues this idea of looking back before going forward. I think the reason why Dvořák's Ninth Symphony is such a kind of heartbeat masterpiece in the repertoire is how relatable it is, and how relatable the narrative is. And for me, the very beginning is very much about storytelling, giving us a little glimpse of the whole piece, the whole symphony to come. Looking back before going forward is something that I was interested in in these two pieces, and what brings them together both dramatically and compositionally. 

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Do you think those are characteristics that we can hear differently in the times that we're in now?

Absolutely. That's another reason why I'm always thinking about what we need to hear, what we need to play in this very odd, surreal life that we're all living now. And I think this idea of the "New World", this kaleidoscope of expressions Dvořák is able to guide in at such a deep level is what makes it such a great piece to do now more than ever. 

I've studied the work a lot and have an old score of it. But I decided to get a new one for this concert, completely without markings. I think I've heard the symphony in different ways, because of what's been going on around the world – that's the purity of art and interpretation.  

 Jonathon Heyward's debut concert with the Orchestra takes placed on Wednesday 30 September. The concert will be livestreamed via IDAGIO's Global Concert Hall

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