Daniel Harding’s yearlong conducting sabbatical—in an airplane cockpit

Posted on: January 22, 2020

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra Music Director Daniel Harding “is temporarily leaving his lofty perch in the world of classical music to pursue another dream job: airline pilot,” writes Elizabeth Yuan in Thursday’s (1/16) Wall Street Journal. “The 44-year-old British citizen … will conduct his final concert of the season in Stockholm in June…. Then he will leave the podium for the cockpit of an Airbus A320 for Air France.… His plan is to take a yearlong sabbatical and then resume concerts and gradually achieve a 50/50 split between the two careers. ‘Conductors tend to retire at 95, and pilots at 65,’ he said.… ‘I’ve got another 20 years I can fly.’ … Mr. Harding … had wanted to fly since he was a child…. Not until he was about to turn 40 and seeking a new challenge did he decide to get his pilot’s license…. The next stage was instrument flying. Then pursuit of a multiengine rating, followed by theory exams for the airline transport pilot license … and ultimately A320-type rating certification … ‘I don’t think I had an afternoon off in four years because, if I wasn’t conducting, I was flying or studying,’ he said.”