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While Andris Nelsons, rushes to Riga the Orchestra plays on

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 27 March 2012 | 10:21:00 pm

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has just completed its longest European tour in 14 years and, whilst the standing ovations and rave reviews continued throughout, there was an unexpected change towards the end. The final three concerts were conducted by Associate Conductor, Michael Seal, who took over at very short notice from Andris Nelsons, the CBSO’s internationally respected Music Director.

The 13 date tour took in some of the most prestigious venues in Europe and featured two of the world’s most celebrated performers – tenor Jonas Kaufmann and pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. It was due to be conducted in full by Andris, but after ten performances, he was forced to withdraw when his baby daughter was rushed to hospital. With just one hour to go before the Orchestra stepped on stage in Dortmund, Mike stepped in.

“This was such a last minute decision but we had a show to do. We’d performed the concerts a number of times before on the tour but obviously I’d played as a musician. Standing in front of capacity crowds guiding the Orchestra through the works required a very different mindset but it was a challenge I was more than willing to take on”, said Mike.

“The Orchestra, as ever, played brilliantly. I’m proud to have been able to step in and also proud to be part of an Orchestra that can pull together so well as a team to deliver great performances for ecstatic audiences.”

Mike continued at the helm in Heidelberg (for a concert broadcast on German radio) and Baden-Baden, and drew a great response from audiences and critics as well as the two star soloists. Stephen Maddock CBSO Chief Executive said: “As Associate Conductor, Mike regularly conducts the CBSO in a wide range of concerts in Birmingham. However, in his other capacity as a violinist with the Orchestra, he had already performed 13 concerts in March and it was a tremendous achievement to take on these concerts at such short notice. It is testament to the nature of the CBSO and to Mike’s fantastic professionalism and skill in these difficult circumstances. The Orchestra continued to play to their world-class standard and ensure that CBSO is both respected for its talent and also its commitment to great music-making.

“Andris is currently in Riga with his family where his daughter is hospital. Our thoughts are with him and his family, and we fully respect their privacy during this difficult time.”Mike Seal will also replace Andris for the CBSO’s next two concerts at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on 29 March and at Symphony Hall on 30 March 2012.