Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • 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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  • OCTOBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 24

    In recent weeks, there has been a lot of news about orchestras settling contracts, some for up to five years. This is a very encouraging sign, as security for the musicians has been hard to calculate during this shutdown. One must hope that contingency plans are in place should the virus continue well into the new year.

    The reason I am bringing this up has to do with the role of music directors as we move forward. Many of them cannot enter the States right now or are put into quarantine upon arrival. In several cases their services as conductors have not been required, as their orchestras are not working, even in reduced numbers. Perhaps some are assisting in repertoire choices for chamber music concerts.

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  • OCTOBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 23

    One of the fingernail-biting experiences in life is watching the scoreboard as the last day of the regular baseball season approaches. Will your team get to the playoffs by winning or as a result of losses by the others?

    In the meantime, there is another, more dramatic game going on. Those of us who are supposed to be travelling keep a close eye on restrictions that each country is imposing on people as they enter foreign lands. I have a seven-week tour coming up near the end of the month involving five separate countries, and the situation in each of those places has an impact on the feasibility of the other dates.

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  • OCTOBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 22

    The Lone Ranger. Batwoman. The Green Hornet. Iván Fischer. What do they all have in common? They wear a mask when they perform.

    Get used to the sight. Many musicians around the world have adopted the facial covering as ensembles try and come back to the concert hall. No longer confined to its traditional role as a disguise for either a bank robber or superhero, the mask is fast becoming as controversial in the music world as it is in so-called real life.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2020: Potholes Edition

    We have a lot to discuss this time around. Arts, politics, society, and health have all intersected, at least for me. Let me begin with a decision that was agonizing but, ultimately, appropriate.

    Over the course of the pandemic, I have, despite some of my written observations, tried to keep an optimistic view. Somehow, without concrete evidence to the contrary, I believed that things would be under control enough to allow to me to fulfill at least one concert date that was on my calendar, namely my engagement in Detroit.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2020: Recovery Edition, Part 21

    Each of us has a misgiving or two about social networking. Although as a society our daily lives have included this form of communication, very rarely are thoughts expressed that offer potential solutions to the dilemmas facing our world. Once in a while, however, a social media post can trigger a set of ideas that might lead to something concrete.

    While idly scrolling through the stream of criticism, advertisements, and messages, one post jumped out at me. A writer asked a question that went something like this: “If you had $100K to spend on programing during the pandemic, what would you do?” Since we are at the start of what will be at least a four-month delay in regular concert presentation as well as the commencement of the school year, I found myself pondering how the two might come together.

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