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Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Meet the Conductor
January 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus
Barry and the Tiger

Barry Knight and Friend

Beyond a certain number, much as we musicians might hate to admit it, working with a fabulous conductor really can really help us combine our musical talents and egos in the most beneficial way with the end result being a performance people would want to hear. It also takes a person with a certain skill, some would say, the ability to “herd cats”, to be a really fine conductor. As can seen in this photo, Barry has that skill in spades.

Having had the privilege to work with Barry, I believe he tells it like it is in his Facebook profile: “I’m a hopeless romantic at heart… I love lots of music, Italian Operas (esp.Puccini) & Russian orchestral works & lots of good light, popular, big band & middle of road music, as long as it’s good of its kind”.

And there’s evidence that the critics think Barry good as his word. Milton Kaine, in the October 2000 issue of American Record Guide, wrote, “Conductor Barry Knight is apparently an expert on British light music and does a commendable job”.

Barry Knight I also witnessed Barry’s ability to charm audiences, to communicate across cultures and languages, to make music available, accesible and enjoyable for people.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way about Barry. The concert reviewer in Wuhan devoted several paragraphs of his review to him:

“The English conductor, a Anthony Hopkins look-a-like, also doubled up as the narrator. During opening, his flawless Chinese greeting of “Good evening friends of Wuhan. Welcome to Mantovani’s beautiful music” gave the audience a pleasant surprise. After that, for every 2 pieces they performed, he would explain [sic] them in simple Chinese. When he was introducing the theme song of “West Side Story”, Tonight, he told the audience, this is a similar story to Romeo and Juliet, only the boy ‘Argh’ in the end – coupled with his imitation of ‘strangling of throat’, the audience laughed audibly in appreciation. Next when he was introducing the “007” theme song You Only Live Twice, he did a gun draw act just like Bond while saying ‘007’ in Chinese. Before the performance for the “Superman” theme song, he even whipped out a blue Superman top with a ‘S’ symbol and asked the ladies if they are willing to date this muscular gentleman.

“Through his narration, the audience got to know about some other things besides the programme notes; “Limelight” was by Charlie Chaplin, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes gave him a ‘gliding in the sky’ feel and he also mentioned that two members of the Orchestra had their birthdays the day before, and they might go for a drink after the performance. The audience felt an affinity towards this elderly, humorous and easy-going gentleman.

“…and when he gave the flowers he received to a lady in the audience and kissed her hand, he was greeting with a thunderous applause.

Well done, Barry.

Well done, indeed, and, I must add, it was a lot of fun working with you.


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