Parallel Lives: Belohlavek and Bryant

Hitting the right note demands a good understanding of each other, reveals this team from the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Jiri Belohlavek, chief conductor, and Stephen Bryant, leader, BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Jiri: Every conductor has a great concern – the quality of his musicians and especially the leading ones. The leader is the closest the conductor gets to a partner, and this relationship is crucial for the whole collaboration to work. I am blessed to have a great concert master in Stephen. I love to work with him, not only for his excellent professionalism, but also for the way he approaches the members of the orchestra. He has a very specific style – calm but exciting at the same time – and he has a marvellous British sense of humour.

Stephen: Leaders and conductors need to trust each other in order to get the freedom they need to work. Jiri is not only a consummate musician but he knows how they tick. He never stifles the strings and therefore the sound he gets from the orchestra is beautiful. It’s inspiring. Best of all, there’s no ‘side’ to him. What you see is what you get and there is none of the ‘bluff’ that some conductors employ and that orchestral musicians see through so easily. He even understands my peculiar sense of humour, although, admittedly, it has taken him quite a few years!

From BBC Ariel magazine 2010

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