My First Concert is a series of blogs that takes leading music-makers back to their childhoods to recall the formative experiences that led them to a life in music.
Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska, who made her UK debut with the Orchestra of Opera North at last year’s Kirklees Concert Season, and has just been announced as the next Principal Guest Conductor for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, returns to Huddersfield to close the current season on 4 April. The programme of Lutosławski, Strauss and Bruckner is repeated at Leeds Town Hall on 6 April.
“I don’t really remember my first concert experience as a listener. But I remember very clearly the moment when I sat in the music library and listened for the first time to Madama Butterfly. I was about 12 or 13 years old and it was a life changing moment for me. I fell so in love with that music, opera and the sound of the orchestra, that after that day, as far as I recall, it was clear for me that I want to do music for real.
I went almost every Friday to see symphony concerts in my home town Tampere, Finland. I watched most of the opera videos that were in our small conservatoire music library and played Beethoven symphonies on violin while the CD was rolling on full volume. I remember that my father found my playing sounding strange from time to time during these Beethoven symphony sessions. Only later I understood that these old Furtwängler recordings that I had were in different tuning than my violin. Poor parents!
I also remember clearly the first time I played in a professional orchestra. I was around 15-16 years old and asked the concertmaster of Tampere Filharmonia if he could give me a chance to play in the orchestra. I played a small audition for him and he invited me straight away to play two projects with them: Holst Planets and Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony. Those two weeks were to remember!
A memorable moment in conducting was when I was assistant conductor for two years at the Orchestre de Paris. I just finished my diploma in conducting when I won the audition for Orchestre de Paris. My first concert with them was conducting Tchaikovsky’s 5th without any rehearsal. A mixture of surreal excitement about being able to conduct such a great orchestra and being extremely nervous!”
Dalia Stasevska returns to conduct the Orchestra of Opera North in Lutosławski, Strauss and Bruckner at Huddersfield Town Hall on 4 April, and Leeds Town Hall on 6 April.
Header image: “This was my favourite place in childhood, it was next to the summerhouse that my parents owned. This land was not taken care of for more than 50 years and had mysterious abandoned houses. The perfect place for a child’s imagination! Later when I became an adult I bought this exact land for myself and built a small atelier which is located now in the left corner of this picture. This is my favourite place to study music and I spend a lot of time there every summer.”