~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, February 15th 2013
In journalism, the great reporter Phillip Knightley likes to say, no "no" is ever final. Our latest cover is a case in point. On landing in this seat five years ago, I had a few cover targets, led by Gustavo Dudamel (right), the conductor whose concerts are so exciting that he seems to be conducting electricity.
Dudamel was in his first flush of fame and the world had woken up to the success of El Sistema, the education programme that produced him and over which he now presides. He was hot, we were new, and the answer from his New York PR was "no". We tried again and then gave up (Knightley would not have approved), until one day last September an e-mail arrived from the broadcaster Clemency Burton-Hill.
She hadn’t written for us, but her diverse CV—acting, writing a novel, playing the violin—included an internship on The Economist. She had got to know Dudamel through her work as a presenter and thought she could get access for a long-form profile of the kind we had run on Ralph Fiennes and Sergei Polunin. "I do think", she wrote, "this piece deserves the space and tone only offered by Intelligent Life." It was already becoming clear why her various careers were flourishing.
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