For seven years now it has been his stage, the place he has earned the right to call 'home'.
But as he takes a bow and drinks in the applause of the audience of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday night, it will be for the last time.
For Stéphane Denève, his final performance conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, his last flick of the baton in a period which has defined him and reinvigorated one of Scotland’s national treasures, will be poignant.
But who is this French maestro, what are his thoughts as he leaves the RSNO, and what does Scotland mean to him and his young family?
At the RSNO’s home in the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow, Stéphane has spent the week enjoying his rehearsals of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, one of the works to be performed at this weekend’s celebration of his tenure.
He wants it to be so very special, a double header that begins at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh tonight.
A chance to say goodbye. To say thank you.
“It will be very emotional,” said the 40-year-old Frenchman. “I live here, my little daughter Alma was born here four years ago, so of course leaving the orchestra will be very emotional. I am happy as I feel I am leaving on a high. The orchestra is playing better than ever. It will be a celebration as well.” He revealed that he will in fact remain based in Scotland for another year.
Since last year, Stéphane has worked as the chief conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and will spend a lot of his time guest conducing some of America’s leading orchestras in the next few months.
He moved to Glasgow in 2005 and, along with his wife Åsa and daughter Alma, stays in the city’s Pollokshields area. For now, the Denève family have no intention of leaving the south side.
“We love this country. We have a great house and are planning to stay at least another year. Our little girl goes to a fantastic nursery. She will continue, to finish her nursery in Scotland first. It will be strange of course because I will be here not working with the orchestra on a regular basis.
“It is world famous that Scottish people are very warm, very welcoming. Our little girl was born in Paisley and has many friends in Glasgow. We need to continue to be here for her.
“I do have a Scottish girl. This is forever. This was my first musical director’s position. Everything you do for the first time has a special significance. Scotland will stay very, very high in my heart.
“Very near Glasgow, you have fantastic landscapes. I will speak about that to friends. The less positive is this weather. That, I won’t really miss. The four seasons in one day is not the best part of it!”
This Frenchman certainly seems to enjoy his adopted country. When he is not conducting around the world, what does he like to do? Where does he like to go? It seems he likes the quiet life.
“We go a lot to parks. We live in Pollokshields, so we many have wonderful parks. Pollok Park, Maxwell Park. We do that a lot. We also go to the movie theatre - Braehead or the city centre. We see a lot of different types of movies.
“Often, as we are on a hill and have a beautiful view, we enjoy looking at the rain!”
Hopefully, the tendency of dreich weather in Scotland won’t put the Denève family off coming back if they eventually move on to pastures new.
With the curtain coming down on his time with the RSNO, what does Stéphane think his legacy will be? Performances at the Proms, Edinburgh Festival, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw? Recordings of Roussel? Or Debussy, including a new collaboration between the RSNO and Stéphane released in the past few weeks?
Or will it be the simple fact that more people attend the orchestra’s concerts than when he started, and more and more young people are becoming engaged with the ensemble.
He said: “Seven years. Almost 200 concerts. Quarter of a million people I have met. The one thing I am very proud of is the rapport I built with the audience.
“When I arrive on stage I say ‘good evening’ and the whole audience, both in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, all say ‘good evening’ back.
“This is a very special feeling that I never had anywhere else.
“What I am most proud about is indeed we have many more people in the hall now than seven years ago. Many more young people. It has been said that the RSNO is now the best French orchestra north of Calais! We did play a lot of French music. I hope there will be a French touch that stays with the RSNO.”
While proud of his musical legacy, surely his appearance in the Sunday Post cartoon The Broons ranks high up in his achievements. Stéphane stars as the guest conductor of Horace’s orchestra, but as the other players fail to turn up after the bus goes missing, the remaining Broons step in to save the show - with a rather unfortunate musical outcome.
The conductor laughed: “I received so many emails telling me this was the best award ever given. I do understand that this is very serious. I was very honoured, and I was very pleased to see myself as a cartoon. I was very proud to show that to Alma, look ‘Daddy is in a cartoon’. It was well done, very funny.”
Stéphane believes this weekend’s concert at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on Friday and then in Glasgow on Saturday will be hard for him. There is no doubt, he has a genuine love for life in Scotland and will find it tough to say goodbye to the orchestra. So can the audience expect something special for his last fling?
“It is very meaningful programme. We start with Scotland’s best composer James MacMillan. Then, a bit of German music, as I’m leaving for the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra. Then, the big piece – full Daphnis et Chloé with the whole RSNO family.
“There may be some little surprises. I hope I will be able to show my affection for this orchestra, for this country and for its people.”
It is about to be au revoir for Stéphane and the RSNO. But I get the impression if he does eventually leave the country with his family, Scotland, its people and its national orchestra will never be far from his thoughts.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The RSNO Chorus and the RSNO Junior Chorus conducted by Stéphane Denève will perform in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh tonight (Friday) and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday. Both concerts, featuring music by MacMillan, Strauss and Ravel, will begin at 7.30pm. For more information, visit the RSNO’s website