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Michael Francis rescues LSO concert (again), in Luxembourg

February 2007

Three weeks after deputising with critical acclaim for an indisposed Valery Gergiev - see our news story Cardiff music graduate steps in for Gergiev at LSO concert - Michael Francis (BMus 1997) was again asked to rescue another London Symphony Orchestra concert.

This time it was part of the LSO's 'American Pioneers' tour to Cologne and Luxembourg. The tour featured the American composer John Adams conducting concerts of his own music. Despite severe gastroenteritis, Adams managed to conduct the first concert, but was too ill for the second, at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg, on Sunday 4 February. Michael Francis, who has been a member of the LSO double-bass section since 2003, was once again asked to prepare to mount the podium. Initially, it was just for the first half of the programme, which consisted of Slonimsky's Earbox and the electric violin concerto, The Dharma at Big Sur, with soloist Leila Josefowicz. At this point, the LSO still thought that Adams might be well enough to conduct the second half of the programme, which consisted of the 45-minute, three-movement symphony, Naive and Sentimental. Thirty minutes before the concert was due to begin, and with no rehearsal time, Michael was asked to conduct this piece as well.

As on 13 January, Michael rose to the occasion, though this time it was a whole concert, but with just one hour's rehearsal! As he wrote in an email to the School: "I do always try to study the scores, but on this occasion I didn't have much time to do this, and so, as you can imagine, the concert was an incredibly intense experience as there are so many time/tempo changes and so many instruments to cue. I absolutely loved the challenge, and fortunately the concert went well. ... I enjoy the responsibility and pressure, and they really are the most incredible players to conduct. I can't describe the feeling when one makes a gesture and the entire brass section comes in bang on time, with perfect sound and unbelievable volume - it's staggering!!!"