Sir Andrew Davis and Sir Henry Wood invite you to the world's greatest music festival

Sir Andrew Davis
BBC Music Magazine

Sir Andrew Davis is returning to London to conduct the First Night of the Proms on the stage where he made his name. And, the Chicago-based British maestro tells Richard Morrison, he can't think of a better way to celebrate his 70th birthday.

By Richard Morrison

To say that Sir Andrew Davis is no stranger to the First Night of the Proms, or indeed the Last Night, would be a little like saying that the Pope is no stranger to the Vatican. The Watford-bred maestro has presided over both occasions more times than any other living conductor. 'I was chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1989 to 2000,' he says, 'and I think I did ten Last Nights and almost every First Night during that time.'

But when he steps onto the podium of the Royal Albert Hall on 18 July to conduct Elgar's last oratorio, The Kingdom, it will be more than just another First Night. Davis turned 70 in February, and this performance is part of a very special birthday present from the BBC. 'I have to thank Paul Hughes [the BBC SO's chief producer] for this,' Davis says. 'I said to him a couple of years ago, rather plaintively: "How are we going to celebrate my 70th?" He came back a few days later and said "How would you like to conduct the three big Elgar oratorios?" I said: "I can't think of anything nicer."'

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