The conductor and composer talk Beethoven, Brexit and bunking off sports day ahead of a new Barbican/LSO season that will celebrate Adès’s 50th birthday
One titan in the room is a challenge. A pair threatens to be a crush. Classical music has many stars. Yet true creative thinkers, who mould the cultural landscape, are a different species: rare, sought after, elusive by nature or necessity. After months of planning, on the eve of announcing a new season, the Barbican Centre has cajoled two such to spend time together on a morning last week, in conversation for the Observer. Both are British but with global reputations. Each has a central role in next year’s programming. Getting a pope and president together could hardly require more meticulous preparation.
Simon Rattle arrives promptly. Time-keeping, in every sense, is a conductor’s reason for existing. We’re in “his” green room backstage at the Barbican, home of the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he is music director. He took up the post in 2017, after 16 years at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic, generally reckoned the best orchestra in the world. You can argue over this meaningless term, but it gives you an idea of Rattle’s status. His is one of the few instantly recognisable faces, and names, in his field. He takes a low-key view of superstardom: blue woolly jumper, grey woolly hair, guiding his wheelie suitcase in one hand, a takeaway coffee in the other. Always animated, heavy-browed eyes intense, today he looks more than usually excited. He has news.
Read more: theguardian.com