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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Sir Simon takes over in Berlin
Sir Simon Rattle with the BPO
Rattle's debut mixed the old and the new
British conductor Sir Simon Rattle has begun his 10-year tenure as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

The 47-year-old received an enthusiastic welcome for a programme mixing tradition with innovation.

"It's wonderful to have Simon Rattle here in Berlin," said US conductor Kent Nagano, musical director of the German Symphony Orchestra based in the city.

Sir Simon Rattle
Rattle will spend half of each year in Berlin
Sir Simon impressed the audience with Mahler's Fifth Symphony as well as a piece by young British composer Thomas Ades.

He will spend half of each year in Berlin, and will spend another two months as principal guest conductor of London's Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

The Liverpool-born conductor was chosen to succeed Italian Claudio Abbado three years ago and has spent recent months helping the orchestra organise its perilous finances.

He had previously turned down an offer to replace Herbert von Karajan, who was then retiring from the Berlin Philharmonic, saying he did not feel ready to take on the post.

After Saturday's performance of Mahler's Fifth, Sir Simon returned to the podium five times to take bows, as the audience cheered.

He moved through the orchestra, congratulating his musicians.

Contemporary piece

"Wasn't that great? That's what I love!" said Hilsa Lueyken, who had travelled from Kassel to see Sir Simon's debut.

The first half of the programme saw a performance of Ades' Asyla.

It was premiered five years ago in Birmingham, where Sir Simon was the musical director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

He became principal conductor with the CBSO in 1980, at the age of just 25.

Sir Simon will champion a public education project in Berlin.

See also:

06 Jul 01 | Entertainment
22 Aug 01 | Entertainment
22 Aug 01 | Entertainment
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