Good news! Sir Simon Rattle will be joining the London Symphony Orchestra, but as Music Director, not Principal Conductor, the position Valéry Gergiev holds at present. Just as the two men are very different, the roles are very different too. The Berlin Philharmonic is a pinnacle against which nothing else quite competes. Rattle doesn't have anything to prove as conductor. Within reason, anyone good can conduct, but very few have the ability to truly "direct music". Now, he's poised, hopefully, to lead the LSO in new directions. What's good for the LSO is good for London and, by extension, the whole country.
Rattle has charisma, but even more important, he has clout. As I've been saying, his call for a super concert hall didn't come off the top of his head. Whatever Rattle does, chances are he'll be doing things with much more vision than the small-box reductionism that dominates arts policy at present. The arts are an international industry and Britain must keep ahead of the game or lose out. Hence the concert hall (already being called the Simon Rattle Concert Hall). It's not an extravagance, but an investment. All the education in the world means little if performance standards drop. The small-box reductionism of current arts policy is destructively short-sighted. It's worth noting that the Arts Council cut the Barbican Centre's funding almost as drastcially as it cut the ENO. What we need is vision, which takes into account the worldwide nature of the industry and the impact of new technology. In an increasingly globalized market, it's primitive to think simply in terms of bums on seats. The real audience is worldwide, and much more sophisticated than it gets credit for. The future doesn't rest simply on schoolkids in the UlK, but on the vast untapped resources opened up by technology. "Think globally, act locally" Please see my numerous posts on arts policy and learning, especially this Analyzed in Context: Rattle's Concert Hall for London.