Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • JANUARY 2021: Wellness Initiative

    When I received a request from violinist Holly Mulcahy to write about what music we might use to improve mental health as we cope with the pandemic, I focused my attention on the words she used to describe our possible emotions (“anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, manic energy, lack of motivation”) as well as her directive: “pick a single work that reflects and supports that emotion, and then pick a secondary work that alleviates that feeling just a notch up or down.”

    Hmm … that was a tough one. Were the musical remedies limited to the world of classical music? How could one really choose just one emotion? Was this request adding to the already burdensome weight of isolation?

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  • DECEMBER 2020: What I Did on My Spring, Summer, and Fall Vacation

    As we come to the end of this decade, which has taken place in less than one year, it seems like a good idea to take stock of what has been accomplished during a time when it has felt like we could do nothing. Many of us have had to find opportunities where none seemed to exist, and perhaps some of us will come out of 2020 a little wiser.

    Being a conductor was not the best profession during the self-imposed and sometimes-mandated lockdown period. The instrumental and vocal artists could at least practice. What was I supposed to do—stand up and wave my arms? After a few weeks of cancellations, I realized that looking over the scores meant to be rehearsed and performed in the near future was a futile exercise. Instead, I would go down to my library and peruse pieces that I either have never conducted or might want to revisit at some time.

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  • DECEMBER 2020

    For your listening pleasure this holiday season, I am happy to share Inspired Themes from the Inspired Films, an album arranged and conducted by my father, Felix Slatkin, in 1962. The recording features twelve tracks from the great biblical epics. On one of them, my parents are the violin and cello soloists, marking the only time they ever performed a duet for a commercial release.

    Happy Holidays!

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  • NOVEMBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 27

    All of a sudden, there is a break in the gloom. For the first time in quite a while, people are actually starting to believe there will be a future. Perhaps for that reason, many are still acting irresponsibly. More on that in a minute.

    With the possibility of three vaccines being available as early as next month, it is not out of the question to look at what lies ahead in terms of—well, almost everything. Schools can start to plan for the winter semester, and if not that, the spring. Businesses will look carefully at their books and determine how best to get back to work. Musicians will be thinking about what it will be like to perform with their colleagues again.

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  • Slatkin Receives 35th GRAMMY Nomination

    November 24, 2020

    Leonard Slatkin is nominated for a 2021 GRAMMY Award in the category of Best Choral Performance for the world-premiere recording of Alexander Kastalsky’s Requiem for Fallen Brothers, available on the Naxos label. The piece is a tribute to the fallen heroes of World War I, combining Orthodox and Gregorian chant with hymns from the allied nations.

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  • NOVEMBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 26

    Amidst all the furor during this election season, it has been easy to forget that the tiny world of classical music has its own battles to fight. For a few days, COVID-19 has not been top of mind, even as cases in the United States have reached all-time highs that increase on a daily basis. Few have been paying attention to the stock market, even though the delay in getting election results should be an indicator that nothing is normal. We have sputtered to find ways to entertain and amuse ourselves as we look for diversions to alleviate our ennui.

    Two items on the musical front have caught my attention over the past couple of weeks, one somewhat frivolous and the other potentially serious.

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  • NOVEMBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Election Day Special

    With lines stretching for blocks, waiting times of more than eight hours, and many ballots cast early, either in person or by mail, voter turnout is of historic proportions despite all the chaos and turmoil of 2020.

    With that in mind, we sometimes forget that we are voting not only for president, but also for members of Congress, state officials, and various local initiatives. It can get very confusing, but that was the case right from the start. In December of 1788–January 1789, the United States held its first election, and it did take almost two weeks to get the results and determine who had won.

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  • OCTOBER 2020: Recovery Edition, A Side Trip

    Whatever happened to the calm before the storm?

    As I write this, we are about a week away from the election, or as I prefer to call it, “Waiting for the Seventh Trumpet.” Any diversion of attention is welcome during this time, and some charming events took place this past weekend. Not that any of them were accomplished in a traditional way, but they certainly put the political contest out of mind for a brief while.

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  • Slatkin Awarded Prix Charbonnier

    October 22, 2020

    On Saturday, October 24, the Federation of Alliances Françaises will present Slatkin with its most prestigious award, the Prix Charbonnier. The ceremony is among the capstone events of the Federation’s 2020 Annual Convention, this year held online for constituents of the more than 100 Alliance Française chapters in the U.S., Canada, and the English-speaking Caribbean.

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  • OCTOBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 25

    During the more than half a year of pandemic shutdowns, I have spent a lot of time dwelling on what others should or should not be doing. Whether addressing matters concerning performers, administrators, or audiences, my observations and suggestions have come from the standpoint of an outsider looking in. Other than a decision not to make the nine-hour drive to Detroit to lead rehearsals and a concert, I have mostly been shielded from heeding my own advice.

    Ever since it became clear that musical life was being turned inside out, I realized that a major verdict might need to be rendered as October arrived. When COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, I, like so many others, did not believe that it would affect me. Exercising every precaution, I believed that together, we could beat the virus into submission. It did not take very long to realize that this was not going to be the case.

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