As we left the country earlier this week, the news was dominated by one important issue of world shattering importance which took up more column inches than any other story, and which some people consider to be key to the future of the planet, although of course there are the inevitable sceptics who refuse to believe the pedlars of doom. Picking up the free newspaper on the plane, the headlines shouted and the clever columnists were dissecting all of the statistics to reach their own startling conclusions. Personally I thought the right decision was made and I look forward to next years X Factor with huge anticipation.
I arrived early at Gatwick and went off upstairs in search of breakfast where I was greeted by a shouty man who unfortunately had been given a microphone to play with at 6.45 am. He was, as is required by such positions, extremely excited; this was emphasised by the fact that everybody around him was trying to pretend they were still asleep and he was shattering their illusions. Mine too. I wandered past and sat down to have breakfast; his voice subsided into the background noise of teacups on saucers, the clink of china plates and the ineffective sawing of plastic cutlery.
When I came back out, a small crowd had gathered around this man and his, well, his giant snow globe. It was a giant inflatable one that looked just like those little ones that you shake to make it ‘snow’, except this was too big to shake, although he was doing his best by shouting REALLY LOUDLY. I walked a little nearer and saw that it was basically a karaoke booth where you could step inside the giant snow globee and belt out your favourite song whilst the shouty man shouted encouragement at you. It was called, Gatwick Factor. The hours of meetings that must have taken. Everything now is …Factor since the X Factor. Well I suppose it started with the Krypton Factor really. You remember a few years ago when everything suddenly had an ‘e‘ in front of it to make it sound more hip and edgy.
“Yes sir, you could buy the vacuum cleaner, but wouldn’t sir be more interested in the e-vacuum cleaner. So much more twentieth century. Yes sir, a wise choice. Sold to the gullible man at the back.”
Then of course it was “i‘, as in iTelephone and i-shed. The same product but just more…er…marketed. Well now it’s…Factor. Of course the music business leads the way at the moment with X Factor and now Gatwick Factor but I expect next year the television schedules will be awash with new factors.
Coming your way in 2010, subject to funding.
Max Factor- Looking for Formula 1 talent.
Factor Factor- Quick Fire Algebra Quiz
XXXX Factor – Late night Drinking competition.
Tractor Factor – West country talent show
Musicians are often described as having the x factor. Take Gergiev for instance. I did a pre concert interview with him in Warwick last week (Lovely hall by the way) where we discussed his batonless finger shimmering technique amongst other things. The question people ask me the most is, does a conductor make a difference to an orchestra or couldn’t you just all do it yourself. Well, the truth of the matter is, yes and yes sometimes. Mahler 2 is always a piece that ignites something in your soul, no matter who is conducting, but when a great conductor is in charge, the piece is raised to another level. If you ask me however to explain why he is so great, I think the only explanation is that he has the X Factor. The same goes for players in the orchestra. The eagle eyed among you will have noticed another new addition to the flute section which at last makes us complete. Adam Walker (21) joined us this week and he is even younger than Phil Cobb who is now 22 I believe. We had a lot of great players auditioning for us, but when Adam came in and played with us it was quite obvious that although he was young he had something that others didn’t. Let’s call it the x factor- Britain certainly has got talent.
We were at Gatwick on our way to do a small trip to Italy stopping off at Salerno, Rome and Turin by the way. A highly successful trip that was only marred by the delay on the way back caused by the snow. We are now back at the Barbican preparing for tonights concert, the final one of the season, which gives me a moment to thank all of you who wrote in or spoke to me in person after my last blog on Mahler 10. I was quite overwhelmed by the response. Thank you.
Next year is yet another busy one in the life of the LSO involving trips around Europe as well as the USA, China and Japan. I look forward to sharing some of it with you.
Wherever you are in the world, have a happy and healthy Christmas and a prosperous new year.