Meet the 19-year-old conductor of the Watford Youth Sinfonia

Dan Hogan

Dan Hogan - Credit: submitted

Dan Hogan, 19-year-old conductor, composer and artistic director of Watford Youth Sinfonia

Where does your love of music come from?

It started around the age of eight when I heard a piece of classical music in a school assembly, I ran back to my dad who has a massive CD collection and begged him to play me some more! Through him, I was introduced to the greats, especially Dvorak, Elgar, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, and that excitement of discovering new music only grew in the years to come, with music gradually becoming the all-consuming part of my life.

How did you begin conducting?

I started piano and cello soon after discovering classical music but would always dance along – rather hysterically – to recordings of my favourite pieces at the time, often waving my arms about. This lent itself quite naturally to an interest in being a conductor – after all he’s the person that stands at the front of the orchestra expressing the music by making all sorts of choreography. I eventually had my first experiences actually conducting at the Junior Academy of the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I studied every Saturday from the age of 14 and started private lessons. I later founded the Watford Youth Sinfonia at the age of 17.

Who inspires you?

Early inspirations included Sir Simon Rattle, for seeming like a magician in front of the orchestra – able to transform the sound of the orchestra and its smallest details through the most miniscule facial expression or hand gesture.

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Is the music all-encompassing?

I generally have little life outside of music as I’m always in rehearsals or working towards the next concert, but that is fine as music is a very social world and I am lucky to have some amazing friends. It’s the best thing in the world to make music that matters to you with people who are special to you. My tastes in music mostly evolve around the late Romantic era and early 20th century, with Mahler being my absolute god – the composer who was the most genuine and heart-wrenching with emotional content in his magnificent symphonies.

what does the future hold?

My ambition is to conduct – I don’t really care where, just as long as it’s music I love with people who are just as excited about it as I am.

Watford Youth Sinfonia will perform its summer concert on August 18 from 7.30pm at St Michael and All Angels in Watford.

The programme features Strauss’ Four last Songs with soprano soloist Lottie Bowden, and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.