THE music will be French and Russian but there will be more than a touch of New York influence in this Wednesday’s (November 3) performance by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

BSO legend Andrew Litton returns to the podium at Lighthouse Poole to conduct an evening of ballet music.

The American was principal conductor between 1988 and 1994 and is now Conductor Laureate.

He has been musical director of the New York City Ballet for the past six years.

Speaking from Poland where he was rehearsing he said: "I had a great run with the BSO. It’s a unique touring orchestra.

"Home is one night a week and the rest of the time you are on the road. That creates a closeness with the players that’s hard to come by in places like London where you play once and everyone goes their separate ways.

"There has always been a great spirit in the orchestra and a love for what they do."

He added: "So even during hard times there is such a positive energy. Even when you are exhausted after driving to Plymouth or Exeter there’s still the feeling that okay, so let’s put on a show.

"For me it was my first orchestra so it’s rather like a first love. You move on and experience many other things, but you never forget your first love. They were heady times."

Litton is full of praise and admiration for the orchestra's community work in education, care settings and hospitals.

"Even back then we were doing a lot of outreach work before people even knew what that was, and of course it has just grown and grown.

"It would be great if classical musicians could just play their favourite Mahler or Beethoven and not worry about anything else, but that is not the way of the world.

"The community work is so very important, not least in reaching people who may not otherwise be able to come to the concert hall. It's a remarkable thing."

He said in the United States musicians had been jealously watching the BSO carry on through digital live streaming when audiences were not allowed.

"We’ve had 18 months of no music and we’ve only just started back with the New York City Ballet and it’s been amazing.

"People are so glad to be back. They have been screaming. Every night has been like a rock concert."

At the Lighthouse on Wednesday ballet music of Debussy, Bizet and the second act ("the part with all the hit tunes") of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker will feature.

"We do 47 performances of the Nutcracker each season in New York and it is probably the most iconic production in the world.

"After 37 years with the BSO, I have never done this with them. But everyone loves it.

Litton says Wednesday will be a tribute to ballet.

"What's great about classical music is that it is an international language and this programme is a perfect example of that.

"I’m looking forward to a sparkling performance."