Andris Nelsons, magician of Birmingham
"Charismatic young conductor Andris Nelsons is a talent in global demand. Since joining the CBSO in 2007 his reputation has soared – a thrilling debut at last year's Proms will be followed by the opening night at Bayreuth this year. He talks to Fiona Maddocks about growing up in Riga, Simon Rattle's legacy and Birmingham's bid for UK City of Culture 2013 [...]
Everywhere you turn in Birmingham, banners and hoardings urge you to “Join the Big Conversation”. This is the slogan for the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2013. The other three finalists in this inaugural competition, now reaching its closing stages, are Norwich, Derry and Sheffield. The award, which promises honour, investment and a boost to tourism but no government funding, will be announced in July.
Each city has drafted in local celebrities to add glamour and profile. One of those for Birmingham is a lean, clean-shaven 31-year-old with high forehead, sharp cheekbones, aqua-clear eyes and a quiet manner.
Something about the way he manages to wear a navy blazer without looking as if he’s stepped out of a clubhouse or off a boat, suggests he is not English. He is not, although he speaks it fluently, his third language after Latvian and Russian but before German, or the French and Italian he modestly discounts.