Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

Cardiff music graduate steps in for Gergiev at LSO concert

January 2007

Cardiff Music graduate Michael Francis (BMus 1997) had an extraordinary 'break' early this month when he was asked at less than 48 hours' notice to deputise for the London Symphony Orchestra's incoming Principal Conductor, Valery Gergiev.

Michael Francis conducting LSO

On 13 January, Michael conducted the LSO in two works by the distinguished Russian composer, Sofia Gubaidulina, in the BBC festival 'A Journey of the Soul': Fairytale Poem (1971) and Pro et contra (1989). With just two days to go, Gergiev came down with a viral infection, and the LSO had to find replacements. Michael, who has been one of the LSO's doublebass players since 2003, was asked if he would conduct two pieces, which he had already begun to study (he puts his enthusiasm for studying the scores of new repertoire down to his analysis classes at Cardiff!).

Michael Francis conducting LSO

In fact, this was not the first time that Michael had been asked to step onto the conductor's rostrum at the LSO. Last summer, during a tour of Lithuania and Russia, Gergiev was late arriving at a rehearsal of Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony. Rather than waste time, the LSO asked Michael to take the orchestra through the Symphony, which he did, with great aplomb. On his arrival, Gergiev is reported (in the January 2007 issue of BBC Music Magazine) to have exclaimed: "A star is born!". The photos to the right were taken during that rehearsal in Vilnius.

The audience reception of Michael's two Gubaidulina performances in London this month was extremely enthusiastic. As the Barbican Director, Sir John Tusa, said during his presentation of the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the concert two days later: "Perhaps the fairytale will come true for Michael Francis".

The music critics also singled out Michael for his performances: