HUDDERSFIELD music-lovers may well blink when they tune into BBC2 reality programme Maestro.
Is it really her? Yes, that’s our Natalia on the telly!
And with actor David Soul, legendary star of Starsky and Hutch.
Natalia Luis-Bassa, principal conductor of Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra, features in the series, which premieres next Tuesday.
She is among eight professional conductors who will each mentor a star to prove the celebrities are worthy of taking charge of the BBC Concert Orchestra in front of a live audience.
The show sees a diverse range of personalities – including drum and bass star Goldie, Blur bassist Alex James and actress Jane Asher – competing to perform at the BBC Proms In The Park in London’s Hyde Park.
Music audiences in Huddersfield will know Natalia for the talks she gives in her throaty Spanish accent before each of her orchestra’s concerts at the Town Hall.
The Venezuelan conductor began her musical studies at the age of 15, when she studied oboe at the world-famous Orquesta Juvenil de Venezuela.
She came to London to complete her studies at the Royal College of Music, where she held the RCM Junior Fellowship in opera conducting for two years.
In addition to her role with the Huddersfield Philharmonic she is musical director of the Haffner Orchestra in Lancaster and the Hallam Sinfonia in Sheffield.
Each mentor in Maestro – all of whom are established professional conductors – will work intensively with their student in helping them to master the disciplines of orchestral, choral and operatic music.
Rehearsals will continue throughout the summer as the celebrity students learn how to inspire and engage with the orchestra and the music.
Others striving to gain the programme’s ultimate prize include newsreader Katie Derham, broadcaster Peter Snow, comedian Sue Perkins and actor and comedian Bradley Walsh.
As the show airs Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra launches its programme for 2008-09.
The first concert, conducted by Natalia on Saturday, November 15, features the overture from Borodin’s Prince Igor, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7.
Guest conductor Nicholas Cleobury takes up the baton on Saturday, February 7, for two pieces by Mendelssohn – his excerpts from Midsummer Night’s Dream and violin concerto – and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4.
In the third and final concert, on Saturday, April 25, Natalia returns to the rostrum for Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Mozart’s Flute Concerto and Brahms’s Symphony No 2.
Huddersfield Phil publicity officer Ruth Holmes says: “We hope the programme will attract viewers of Maestro as well as existing subscribers.”