"Having said that, I do my damnedest to get a balance through my repertory as a whole. If one can, through the course of a year, have a balance of different kinds of activities and events, that makes for a better musician." [David Atherton], who was born in Blackpool, England, is music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the London Sinfonietta. He is also principal guest conductor of the BBC Orchestra and recently led new productions of Britten's "Billy Budd" and "Peter Grimes" and Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots" for the English National Opera.
"When I first started in Hong Kong," he recalled, "we did pieces deliberately chosen not to be too demanding on the audience. They would come along and say, `We don't know this composer. But let's give it a shot.' Then later: `That was not too bad. Let's try it again.' Over time, you build a relationship and they trust your judgment in what is new and adventurous." * David Atherton conducts the Pacific Symphony in music by Haydn, Mendelssohn and [Stravinsky] today and Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tickets: $12 to $36. Information: (714) 474-4233.
PHOTO: COLOR, Conductor David Atherton leads the Pacific Symphony today and Thursday.; PHOTO: David Atherton says he is not exclusively a contemporary-music specialist.