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Sir Charles Mackerras, Master Conductor - A Profile

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Airs Thursday, may 12, at 1 p.m. Hosted by Lisa Flynn, this special celebrates the life, career and exceptionally wide-ranging achievements of the acclaimed conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, the WFMT Radio Network presents a two-hour documentary, painting a vivid picture of Sir Charles as artist and man using invaluable archive recordings of him in conversation and personal recollections from many musicians who deeply admired him. There are also contributions from members of his family, with memories of him extending from his very young days right up to the close of his life. The producer is a former musician who over a period of nearly four decades worked closely with him both as an orchestral player and documentary maker: Jon Tolansky.

Sir Charles Mackerras would have been 90 years old this year, 2015, which marks the 67th anniversary of his debut as a conductor and the 64th of his first recording, which immediately brought him international recognition as a very brilliant young artist. Following the huge success at Sadlers Wells Theatre in March 1951 of his new ballet Pineapple Poll,ingeniously put together in brilliant arrangements of themes from Sullivan operas, on the 7th and 8th of June that year he set down the score with the Sadlers Wells Orchestra in Abbey Road Studio No 1 for an initial release of twelve “78” disc sides (reissued the following year as one of the very first two EMI Columbia LPs). Quite apart from the appeal of the music, the disc quickly became highly admired for the sparkle, colour and highly disciplined agility of the playing – and this from an orchestra that was not then distinguished as a top quality ensemble like England's Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras of the time. It was already a very sure sign of the special conducting talent to come, and yet only a small glimpse of the huge scale panorama that would evolve.