The British maestro explains his passion for MGM and why he believes his home team needs support.

In the musical world today, there are specialists and there are polymaths. Interestingly, British conductor John Wilson is a bit of both with a significant name for American popular music of the 20th century on the one hand and British music on the other. It’s an unusual doubleton, and one that has earned Wilson an enviable reputation, particularly for the Hollywood movie musical themed concerts, which have become something of a BBC Proms staple.

“I suppose I’ve never made any distinctions between one type of music and another,” he explains, sitting back on a couch in his dressing room. I’d say relaxing, but Wilson has something of the coiled spring about him – his racing, encyclopedic brain almost visible behind the steely blue eyes. “I was always taught that the most important thing is to get the style right for whatever you’re doing, whether it be Mozart or Mantovani.” Not that he’s ever done any Mantovani, he adds with a laugh.

Born in 1972, Wilson was raised in Gateshead, just across the Tyne from Newcastle in the North of England. “I grew up...