MAY 2017Read more
Extremely intense three weeks in the States, with a lot of hard work and results that made it all worthwhile.
With only one day to recover from jet lag, I launched into Mahler’s 10th Symphony with the DSO. Most of you probably know that this is the work that was left incomplete, as the composer died while writing the piece. Never mind that he was superstitious about Beethoven’s death following the German master’s 9th; Mahler left enough information via sketches for several editors to try their hands at conjecturing what this last work might have sounded like.
Mahlerian MadnessRead more
I have a confession. Pretty much throughout my years as a student at the Juilliard School, I hated Gustav Mahler. The symphonies were too long, too loud, derivative and, at least to me, boring. One morning a friend spotted me in the cafeteria and said he had an extra ticket to a concert that night by the Philadelphia Orchestra. I asked what they were playing and he said, “The New York premiere of the Tenth Mahler.”
“Why would I want to hear a work by a composer I don’t like, much less one that he did not finish?”
“Because it is the Philadelphia Orchestra,” my friend replied.
That was good enough for me. And that night, I was not only captivated by the incredible playing but also moved by the piece. Thus started my relationship with the Austrian master.
APRIL 2017Read more
Following the successful tour of the ONL in the States and a few free days at Disney World, it was time to get back to Europe. But in this case, it was to work with two orchestras I had not seen for almost ten years and another that was a debut.
Milan may be the fashion capital of the world, but it is likewise notable when it comes to music and food, two of my passions. La Scala is obviously the drawing card, but the city also has a very good symphony orchestra, known simply as La Verdi. Having made several visits there over the years, I knew what to expect, even though there are many new musicians in the orchestra.
MARCH 2017Read more
That was the oft-quoted word that characterized my very first trip to the U.S. with an orchestra from another land. February was devoted to the ONL, with a week in Lyon and then a two-week, eight-concert trip to the States.
Taking a full symphony orchestra on a lengthy trip is, literally, always risky business. The promoters in most cities do not want to pay the full fee, and much of the burden falls on the orchestra itself in terms of dealing with the fiscal consequences. But the final result, if most everything goes as planned, can turn out to be a boon for not only the organization, but also the city it represents.
FEBRUARY 2017Read more
Is there a point in music when the phrase “too much of a good thing” applies? Certainly not when it comes to Mozart. The great Austrian was the focus of our Winter Music Festival, previously inhabited by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. But there was also a week when the DSO played out in the neighborhoods, and that is where we start this month’s entry.
For the past six seasons, a great deal of time has been spent performing in outlying communities, away from the grandeur of Orchestra Hall. There remain members of the public who either are unable to travel from the suburbs or still harbor apprehension about coming downtown. Over the course of our series, many of these people have been so taken by the orchestra that they have indeed started to visit The Max again.
The Right to Be YourselfRead more
Normally at this time, I post a monthly recap of musical events that have taken place, and that entry will appear during the second week of February. But something occurred over this past weekend that compels me to write something off-topic.
It was Saturday in the late morning, as I was driving to Orchestra Hall and listening to the radio, that I first learned of the newly instituted immigration rules that have been put into place. All I could think about was that a little over a hundred years ago, both sides of my family came to Ellis Island seeking refuge from the horrors that were sweeping Russia. Their dream was to come to the States for political, social and religious freedom. Lady Liberty welcomed them with no tears.
JANUARY 2017Read more
It could not have come a moment too soon. One had to wonder how history would paint its picture of this past year. There remains much to be settled, and none of us knows how events in the States or the world will affect the arts. Still, there were two fine weeks of performances left in Detroit before Cindy and I started on a nice, long vacation.
A few years ago, when the DSO went to Carnegie Hall, we inherited a program originally scheduled for the Oregon Symphony featuring Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht’s Seven Deadly Sins with vocalist Storm Large. Fiscal demands prohibited our colleagues in Portland from getting to New York, and since we were already headed there for our own program, we also filled in the previous evening.
DECEMBER 2016Read more
The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908! Donald Trump was elected President! Cindy and I moved out of our Lyon apartment!
November was a very strange, and extremely busy, month.
It started off with—well—nothing. I was supposed to lead the Pittsburgh Symphony in a set of subscriptions concerts, but the orchestra remained on strike, and I simply stayed at home. After two months a settlement was reached, but it was a couple weeks too late for me to lead the orchestra. Hopefully the resolution will keep the peace for the time being.
NOVEMBER 2016Read more
After the successful opening of the season in Lyon, it was time to try to achieve the same in Detroit. We certainly had the star power to do it, and there were also a couple of agenda items that I hoped would make this year particularly interesting.
Coming from a background which housed about as much musical diversity as possible, I wanted to try and see if the merging of the popular culture with the classical traditions could sustain itself over the course of the majority of our subscription concerts. “Gershwin and His Children” was the name I chose for this project, basically looking at his influence on composers from all over the world.
OCTOBER 2016Read more
With just a little over one month to go before we elect a new President of the United States, there is much to think about. With confrontations between citizens and the police, continued terrorist activity throughout the world, and an insecure economy, one could at least find comfort in the arts, and for a few hours each day, I was able to do just that.
The early part of September was mostly spent getting reacquainted with our house in suburban Detroit. It had been twelve weeks since Cindy and I had seen it, but everything seemed fine, and a sense of security fell upon our souls. All my kitchen utensils were where they were supposed to be, the home theater system was slightly misbehaving, and the everyday rituals came back easily.