James Rutherford: Profile Interview

Ahead of his performance this Sunday, bass-baritone James Rutherford sat down with us to discuss Brahms, Nelsons, and life on the road.

PO: What is life like for a busy classical soloist?

JR: It's all glamour - budget airlines, grotty apartments and away from home for 9 months a year! But seriously, I love my job. I sing for a living and at the end of a day's work, I get applauded - what could be better than that!

PO: What is your favourite Brahms composition and why?

JR: My favourite Brahms composition is the Four Serious Songs, one of the last pieces he wrote. They are settings of biblical texts the last of which sets the well-known lines from 1 Corinthians: 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.' The way Brahms sets the word 'love' is one of the most amazing outpourings of ecstasy in all music.

PO: What is Andris Nelsons like to work with?

JR: I read that last year Andris Nelsons was the second busiest conductor in the world! I was lucky enough to sing my first Flying Dutchman with him last year, which was a wonderful experience. Like all the greatest conductors, I believe Andris is a true servant of the music - it's not all about him, how he looks or his hairstyle! A humble but exceptionally gifted musician.

PO: Do you enjoy performing with the Philharmonia?

JR: I've been lucky enough to perform quite a few times with the Philharmonia recently. I can honestly say each concert has been a truly memorable experience. I sang Beethoven 9 in the Beethovenhalle, Bonn; my first Wotan on Wagner's birthday last year; and the icing on the cake was closing the Wagner gala at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles' 65th birthday. As we say in the business: 'Those were good gigs'!

James Rutherford performs in Ein deutsches Requiem with the Orchestra this Sunday (23 Feb), in the final concert of the Andris Nelsons Brahms Cycle.