What happens when a conductor is pranked by the orchestra? The audience in Canada’s Roy Thompson Hall found out on the weekend when the musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra prepared a special birthday surprise for their former Music Director (and current Conductor Laureate and Interim Artistic Director) Sir Andrew Davis.

Sir Andrew Davis, Happy Birthday, PrankSir Andrew Davis. Photo © Peter Tarasiuk

The English conductor, who is in the final year of his tenure as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, was obviously taken by surprise when he began conducting what he thought was Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries in a concert on the evening of his 75th birthday. Fortunately someone in the audience caught it all on video.

The Wagner/Happy Birthday mash-up, which saw the choir join in as well, was arranged by Toronto-based composer Liam Ritz.

The musicians of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will have to wait until March to wish their Chief a happy birthday in person, when he returns to Hamer Hall to perform a concert of Borodin, Bruch and Tchaikovsky.