Kent Nagano talks to Tom Service on BBC Radio 3

Tom Service caught up with Kent, for his Music Matters programme on BBC Radio 3, when he was in London recently to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra in music by Wolfgang Rihm.

Kent talks to Tom about the lasting influence of the musical education he received in the culturally rich surroundings of Morro Bay in California in the 1950s and 60s, and how the sense of community there has informed his approach to music-making throughout his life, from the opera houses where he’s served as Music Director in Munich, Los Angeles and Lyon, to long spells in charge of orchestras from the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in his home state to the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Hallé Orchestra. He explains how the social ideals of the symphony are central to how he performs the traditional symphonic and operatic repertoire and discusses his close associations with composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez and Olivier Messiaen. We hear his views on the support of new music which he sees as crucial for the future of classical music, he himself having premiered orchestral works and operas from composers including John Adams, Thomas Ades, Peter Eötvös, Wolfgang Rihm and Kaija Saariaho, Nagano also explains his belief that the symphonic and operatic experience is more relevant than ever in the 21st century.