Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • JULY 2012

    Wrapping up seasons is an occasion to reflect on what has been done or accomplished over the past months. In this case, my first year as music director in Lyon had to be measured as a fine success. But before I led the last two weeks of concerts there, I had one wonderful week in my old stomping grounds.

    The National Orchestral Institute has been around for 25 years. It is centered at the University of Maryland in College Park. In some ways it reminds me a little of the New World Symphony in Miami, where I conducted earlier this season. The orchestra is comprised primarily of college age musicians of the highest caliber. They gather for almost four weeks to make music with different conductors and mentors from the leading orchestras in this country.

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  • LATE JUNE 2012

    We are just about a month away from the publication of Conducting Business on July 24. Amadeus Press has graciously allowed me to post the introductory chapter. I hope this makes some of you interested to read more.

    Praeludium

    There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. — Louis L’Amour

    There is an old joke about the audience member who comes up to the conductor after a performance. Having heard a full program, she says, “That was lovely. What do you do for a living?”

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  • JUNE 2012

    Winding down a season usually means that the overall pace slackens a bit. Not this time.

    The first week of May was relatively calm, with only one set of concerts in Detroit at Orchestra Hall. My brother joined us for a performance of the Korngold Cello Concerto, written for our mother more than 60 years ago! Fred and I have always enjoyed doing this piece together and everyone was caught up not only with the story behind the story, but the performance as well. It was also a rare opportunity for the two of us to catch up. Usually this is limited to a quick bite to eat when I am in New York.

    The Korngold was written for the film Deception and another piece on the program, Tristan and Isolde Fantasy, was composed for the 1946 drama Humoresque. The unusual scoring for violin and piano solo with orchestra was what composer Franz Waxman came up with for the moment when Joan Crawford walks into the ocean and kills herself. On this occasion it was played by our acting concertmaster Kim Kennedy and pianist Cameron Smith. No one was harmed in the presentation of this piece.

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  • MAY 2012: Kid Rock and Roll Over Beethoven

    The question on everyone’s lips was, “What is this going to be like?”

    The answer was, “Fabulous.”

    Over the years I have done my share of concerts with acts from the popular music culture. It started when I was the assistant conductor in Saint Louis. We had a series devoted to the earliest attempts at crossover, performing with diverse artists such as the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble, B. B. King and Odetta. Symphonic Rock was in evidence with the work of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. Metallica had a show arranged by Michael Kamen.

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  • MAY 2012

    “You’re baddass!”

    These two words were spoken to me following a concert in one of Detroit’s suburbs. A young woman came up to me, looked me in the eyes and that is what she said.

    After figuring out that this was a compliment, I realized that perhaps there are ways to reach the younger generation that I had not yet contemplated. Was it our performance of the “New World” Symphony? Perhaps it was because we were playing in a Temple.

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  • APRIL 2012

    Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich, Friedrichshafen, Heidelberg, and Vienna. Almost enough for a German baseball team. This was a tour schedule that took me to all these places over the course of 9 days. Everything went well but you would never have known it from the way this European jaunt started.

    It had been more then two months since I last saw my orchestra in Lyon. I looked forward to seeing everyone and of course, making music with the musicians. But I had to get there first and as this trip began, I felt the exasperation of international travel once again.

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  • MARCH 2012

    It has been my habit to more or less inform readers of my comings and goings during a given month. This time I am going to start in the middle, dealing with a musical issue.

    There are not many pieces from the standard canon that I have not conducted. Usually, after a first try, I either keep the work and try to program it again, or I drop it from my repertoire. At this point in my life, I have the good fortune to pick and choose what I want to do.

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  • FEBRUARY 2012

    More than 6,000 miles separated conducting engagements in January. At least it was only one flight between Detroit and Tokyo, so the 14-hour trip was not unbearable. When you are dealing with a 14-hour time change, no amount of preparation can offset jet lag.

    After some time off, the New Year found the DSO playing in suburbia. This was the official start of the new “Neighborhood” series. Over the course of four months, we will play in six venues. Among the lessons learned during the strike was how many people simply found it difficult to make the trip downtown for concerts in Orchestra Hall. The superiority of acoustics and sightlines made no difference to a surprisingly large segment of the community.

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  • JANUARY 2012

    How does that song go? “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

    December proved the ditty correct, at least for me. Two weeks were spent in Lyon performing American music. A festival had been devised around my arrival this season and I thought it would be a good idea for musicians and audience to get to know me through some of the music created in the States.

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  • MARCH 2011

    If March is supposed to come in like a lion, I wonder what animal people will make of this past February?

    Most of you will undoubtedly know that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has suspended the remainder of its strike-ridden season. More than half of the concerts had already been taken down and it really was only a matter of time before we were either back to work or down for the year. Much has been written, discussed and argued about. It is still not my place to comment –that will come later.

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