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.
SEPTEMBER 2016Read more
The next sentence is one I have very rarely written: I conducted one piece for the entire month of August.
After chronicling the process of putting together Samuel Barber’s opera, Vanessa, there were just four more performances to present. During the winter season, when I have done an opera, usually I found time to fit in a guest conducting engagement during the extended breaks between performances. Even my earlier appearance in Santa Fe saw me dart up to Aspen and over to the Hollywood Bowl.
AUGUST 2016Read more
After a terribly long trip from Nagoya, we arrived in Santa Fe, a place so opposite the Japanese cities we visited on the ONL tour that not only jet lag, but also cultural shock, set in. I am here for the duration of the summer, conducting five performances of Samuel Barber’s masterpiece, Vanessa. When I was here several years ago, I had suggested that this work would be a good one for me to do, and everyone seemed to agree. The fact that it has never been presented at the Santa Fe Opera, which is celebrating its 60th year, took everyone by surprise.
JULY 2016Read more
Most of the time, I devote this space to simply recounting what has taken place over the previous month, at least as far as my musical life is concerned. Every so often I deviate from this if there are abrupt changes in the world that seem to shake all of us to the core, for better or worse. June was one of those months.
JUNE 2016Read more
First off, I hope you are enjoying the new website. It took a lot of work, but now that it is up and running, I feel more connected to this still-early phase of the twenty-first century.
Winding down activities for the season always feels like the stakes are ramped up. You have to imagine that everything you do is in preparation for what is to come when it all starts up again in a few months. This certainly was the case in May.
MAY 2016Read more
The end of a grueling, nine-week global schedule finished up with gusto and subtlety. We literally traveled around the world during these past two months, winding up in Tokyo for a most wonderful three-week stay.
Prior to that, there was much to do in Lyon. The two weeks spent there contained a number of concerts and events, including the announcement that I will be wrapping up my music director tenure with the ONL next season.
APRIL 2016Read more
Amid the escalating political rhetoric dominating the news, as well as atrocities being committed in the world, there was some comfort in traveling to places old and new for me this past month. I found myself ending each rehearsal period by telling the orchestras I led that we are so lucky to be musicians.
After the exhausting Brahms Festival in Detroit, I began a nine-week road trip, one that took me to orchestras familiar and unknown, at least as far as my own experiences were concerned. The first stop was in Fort Worth, with an ensemble going through its own set of difficulties during a lengthy contract negotiation. Now that I will head up the jury as well as conduct for the next Cliburn Piano Competition, it seemed logical to spend a week getting to know the orchestra a bit better.