Innovation Lifebytes

A rising star in the classical music scene, John Lidfors controls an 80-person orchestra with great finesse. But can the new Golf, with its optional gesture-controlled Discover Pro infotainment system handle the elegance and control of this young maestro? He puts his skills to the test by taking the Volkswagen out for a spin.  


Though having American parents, Lidfors grew up in Germany. As a child, he learned the piano and violin before eventually studying in Vienna, Berlin and Aspen. Now at age 30, he has a wide repertoire as a concert conductor ranging from symphonic works, choral music and modern compositions, but his focus is on classical music.


Every day, Lidfors shapes and juggles sounds with his hands. “It inspires and fascinates me how a conductor can tease out the energy inherent in an orchestra,” he explains. He compares conducting music to weightlifting – with 80 musicians on the bar.

While conducting music is controlled, Lidfors enjoys the freedom that driving brings. “I enjoy the freedom of being able to go wherever I want,” he says. And of course, music while driving is a must. When on the road, Lidfors plays a guessing game. He turns on a classical music station and guesses who composed the piece of music that’s played. Changing the station on the new Golf only requires a slight gesture with his practised hand, thanks to the optional gesture-controlled Discover Pro infotainment system.


The system makes it possible to switch radio stations, songs, and even photos with a simple hand gesture. Intuitive and convenient, a symbol on the user interface indicates where gesture control is possible and where it’s not. First introduced in the concept car Golf R Touch, gesture control was at one point considered futuristic. Now, it is a series production reality. Not only does it improve the driving experience, make operation of the infotainment more intuitive, it is also just plain fun.


When asked what’s next in the pipeline, Lidfors shares that he celebrated a big premiere at the Opera Festival in Amsterdam in March, with symphonic projects in Berlin and Southern Germany following closely too.

“For me, there’s something deeply mysterious and alluring about the gestures of a conductor,” he says. “(A conductor) communicates sounds through his hand gestures and the musicians understand him. He has to be strong-willed and have a very distinct sound concept – then the orchestra will follow him.”

Stay tuned for more updates on when the new Golf with optional gesture-controlled Discover Pro infotainment system will reach our shores!