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Thomas Adès/Sir Simon Rattle

One of the world's most successful and most decorated classical music conductors, Sir Simon Rattle has performed with most of the top orchestras in the most prestigious concert halls all over Europe, America and other parts of the world. Born in Liverpool, he initially studied piano and violin and then concentrated on playing percussion with the Merseyside Youth Orchestra. He was still in his teens when he first turned to conducting, founding the Liverpool Sinfonia and going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A prodigious student, his graduation coincided with winning first prize at the John Player International Conductors Competition, leading on to him becoming assistant conductor with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

In 1976 he toured the US with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra and worked extensively across America; in 1981 he was appointed principal guest conductor with Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and, through the years. He also developed a close and long-running association with the prestigious Glyndebourne Festival and, in 1980, was appointed principal conductor - and then music director - with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for many years. Another of his most significant positions was as chief conductor and artistic advisor to Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where highlights included a choreographed performance of Stravinsky's 'The Rites of Spring' and he made a major impact. His contract was originally intended only to run until 2012 but was extended at the request of the orchestra to 2018.

He also became a familiar figure on TV with his 'Leaving Home' series and built a hugely successful career, with over 70 recordings to his name, with various orchestras playing the works of Mahler, Brahms and many more. His 1989 recording of Gershwin's 'Porgy & Bess', which featured in a 1993 TV production, won particular acclaim, while other highlights include recordings of Holst's 'The Planets', Bruckner's 'Fourth Symphony', Debussy's 'La Mer' and Haydn's 'Sinfonia Concertante'. He has married three times - initially to American soprano Elise Ross, then writer Candace Allen and in 2008 to Czech soprano Magdalena Kozena - and became one of most admired and recognisable figures in classical music. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1987 and in 1994 received a Knighthood. In 2017 he began a new role as music director with London Symphony Orchestra, describing the orchestra as having the "rare mindset of always looking forward."

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