You have been a regular visitor to Australia in recent years. What brings you back, the orchestras or the place (or both)?

Australia was always an exotic place to me as an American, since it was so far away. My first time to Sydney proved that it was an incredible place, not just because of the quality of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra but because of the overall scope of the city: the culture, the botanical gardens, the extraordinary nature around Sydney and not to mention the quality of the food in the city! It’s always a pleasure to return and continue to explore. This time, I’ve been in Melbourne, which is also remarkable with a huge amount to offer – very different from Sydney. Overall, it’s the beautiful landscape paired with very high-level musicians that keeps me coming back to Australia.

James Gaffigan. Photo © Daniela Kienzler

Many of your reviews cite your physical conducting style as a particular feature of your interpretations. Who did you study with and was there any point at which you thought you’d ‘go your own way’?

I think conducting technique is a very strange thing; it’s like teaching a painter how to paint. We all come up with our own styles, not even consciously but whatever works for our physicality...

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