August 1, 2007 leonard slatkin

Greetings from Aspen, Colorado! It is lovely here, as usual, but with a bit more rain that expected.

July turned out to be a very exciting month. In my position as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl (a Guinness record for length of titled position), I spend almost three weeks in Los Angeles. This was my hometown and the Bowl was where my father performed for many years. So it is always a treat to return to the orchestra I grew up with.

Among the highlights was a concert performance of The Magic Flute, with some outstanding singers. This is not the usual fare for the orchestra, but they brought it off with great flair and genuine enthusiasm for the project. I had performed the opera about 14 years ago in Chicago and was reminded of how extraordinary this work is. Our performances eliminated most of the spoken dialogue but used a narrator to tell the story. The sung portions were in German, but because of the way the narration tied it all together, it was not necessary to have supertitles.

Over the next two weeks, we only had one rehearsal for each program. But everything came off just fine, including a program devoted to pieces I heard my dad perform so many years ago. These are pieces that do not turn up frequently in concert these days. The Zampa Overture of Herold, Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours, the Second Hungarian Rhapsody of Liszt, etc. But it was great fun, and everyone seemed to enjoy this change of reportorial pace.

After the Bowl, I went on to Detroit with two concerts at the Meadowbrook Festival. This was a hastily arranged set of concerts, mostly to capitalize on a particularly fine week we had together about two months ago. The orchestra was a pleasure to work with, and we seem to have struck up a fine rapport. Even the weather cooperated and we were able to attract a nice-sized audience.

But here in Aspen we are hoping that the rains will diminish. The past two summers when I have conducted here, there have been torrential storms during my concerts. In one case, we actually had to cease playing two movements of the Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony. Hopefully the Gods will look more favorably on Petrushka.

See you next month!

Leonard Slatkin