ONE of the rising stars of the classical music world will be in East Lancashire tonight as the Halle Orchestra comes to town as part of the Blackburn Classics season.

For Andrew Gourlay it will be a chance to be reunited with the orchestra who he spent two years with as assistant conductor.

“This will be the first concert I have worked with the Halle since I left,” he said. “During my two years they were so warm and welcoming and took the trouble to help me through that when I left it was like leaving behind a large band of friends so it will be really special to be back with them in Blackburn.”

For tonight’s concert Andrew has put together an interesting and challenging programme which includes work by Brahms, Rossini, Verdi and even George Gershwin.

“For this concert I have had a huge amount of say in the programme,” said Andrew, “which is very nice. I have, in effect, picked some of my favourite pieces. But having so much choice over what to play can be difficult as you have to ensure that they all work together.

“You tend to start out with a long list of ideas and work with the orchestra to see what might work and what wont and then when you have a definite direction for a concert bring in pieces which fit.

“As the conductor, a programme like the one we will be doing tonight is hard work as there are so many different tempos and styles to bring together.

“And for the orchestra there are a few challenging pieces which means they certainly will have to be on their toes.”

Andrew is one of the most in-demand young conductors in the world and has given concerts with 29 orchestras around the world.

“Every orchestra has its own personality,” said Andrew, “but I think for most of them, when faced with a new conductor, their attitude is that the conductor has to impress them. They are after all highly skilled musicians in their own right and you do have to prove yourself to them.

“Often you have to do this in a country where you don’t know the language. I’ve recently done a lot of work in Spain and it’s very stressful having to get your message across as it that takes so much of your mental capacity so you can’t devote all your attention to the music itself.

“You really have to see what happens on that first bar when the orchestra comes together. When it’s good the music transcends any language barrier and you really don’t need words to communicate.”

Andrew is particulalry looking forward to performing at King George’s Hall.

“I think the reception you get from audiences at venues away from the main centres is always tremendously enthusiastic,” said Andrew. “I think some of the best experiences I have had as a conductor have been outside the traditional centres for classical music.”