Tuesday, May 21, 2013
By Bob Keyes firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if you have a good relationship with the guy, it's always a bit alarming when the Prince of Wales rings you up.
Christopher Warren-Green, a British-born musician, says he senses deep appreciation for classical music on both sides of the Atlantic.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, Portland
MORE INFO: Call PortTix at 842-0800 or visit porttix.com
Christopher Warren-Green has received a few phone calls from Prince Charles over the years.
"My association with the royal family goes back a long time, but it's still a surprise when someone gets on the phone and says, 'The Prince of Wales would like to talk to you, and here he comes.' You are in the kitchen trying to quiet the children and keep the dog from barking," said Warren-Green.
The British-born classical musician will be in Portland this week to serve as guest conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
Warren-Green, 56, conducted the wedding of England's Prince William and Catherine Middleton last April. He also conducted music for the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, as well as the program for Queen Elizabeth's private 80th birthday party and the Prince of Wales' 60th birthday party.
"They are very charismatic," he said of the royal family. "People often get tongue-tied with them, but they're very easy to talk to."
Warren-Green makes his home in Charlotte, N.C., where he works as music director of the Charlotte Symphony. He also is music director and principal conductor of the London Chamber Orchestra, and spends much of his professional life flying back and forth across the Atlantic.
He will lead the Portland Symphony on Tuesday at Merrill Auditorium at the request of Robert Moody, the PSO music director and conductor, who also leads the orchestra in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Moody has other commitments and cannot conduct this week's two concerts by the Portland Symphony. Another guest will lead the orchestra at its Jan. 29 concert.
It is through their association of North Carolina orchestras that Moody and Warren-Green have become friends. "Shortly after I was appointed in Charlotte, we got in touch and met. We got on like a house on fire.
"We knew each other's work, and after we met we got on terribly well. We are like-minded musically, and I am very much hoping that Robert will come to my orchestra soon."
Tuesday's concert has a European flair. It features music by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius and Czech composer Anton Dvorak. Warren-Green described the program as "rustic and pastoral."
That theme is somewhat similar to what Warren-Green came up with for the April wedding of Prince William and his bride. He met many times with Catherine Middleton to plan the musical program.
"She had certain ideas, and I was putting forward suggestions. She was rejecting some things that I thought would be perfect for a royal wedding, such as Handel's music. But she did not want anything Baroque. She wanted her wedding with a theme of an English pastoral countryside, and she wanted a simple wedding. Can you imagine?"
The program included music by Edward Elgar, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others.
He had nothing but nice things to say about the Duchess of Cambridge. "She was absolutely delightful, incredibly clued-up and highly educated. Just bright as a button and a lovely person," he said.
He described conducting her wedding as a personal highlight of his career.
Warren-Green has conducted the London Chamber Orchestra since 1988, and has worked in Charlotte since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Music, and conducted orchestras around the world, including the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic.
In the United States, he has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and many others.
He senses deep appreciation for classical music on both sides of the Atlantic, and says people in America seem more open-minded about classical music and take more civic pride in their orchestras.
"In America, it seems that people know that without culture in their city, their city will die," he said.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: