Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • 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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  • DECEMBER 2011

    Just when I think things are beginning to slow down, a month such as the last one occurs. Granted, much of the news was not related to travel or even conducting outright. Nevertheless it was a wonderfully busy time.

    Let’s start with the best part. Cindy and I got married on November 20th. The small ceremony was held in our house and about 18 guests attended. It was a huge effort to get the place ready in time, as we had only moved in a few weeks prior. Most of my job was to unload the wine, CD’s and DVD’s. I had no idea how much those boxes weighed and the day after the wedding, my back paid the price.

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  • NOVEMBER 2011

    October might be the best month of the year for me. I had my two orchestras up and running, Cindy and I moved into a new house, and both Detroit and St. Louis were in the baseball playoffs. The Lions had won their first four games of the young football season.

    Music first.

    No one really knew what to expect when the DSO started up this year. There were plans and more plans. The public was a little confused with all the new initiatives. When it was said and done, everything went smoothly and an air of optimism creeped into everyone’s collective being.

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  • OCTOBER 2011

    A café by the river Rhône. Sunny September skies. The sounds of many languages floating in the air. It is Lyon and the start of a beautiful relationship.

    Although it should really be called “The City Where Cholesterol Is King,” Lyon is my second home now and this was the first time I would see my new orchestra as its music director. I had guest conducted here five times previously and each was a wonderful experience. The position had been offered to me quite a while ago but due to administrative changes it took some time to effect a contract. But that is long past and we were off and running with a bang.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2011

    After almost six weeks of tending to Cindy, it was time to get back on the podium. She was doing extraordinarily well and all the signs pointed to a complete remission. There were still chemo and radiation treatments to go but they seemed more precautionary than necessary. I continued to admire Cindy’s strength and resolve during this time.

    I headed out to Santa Barbara alone for a couple days. Two years ago I had conducted at the Music Academy of the West and completely enjoyed the experience. This school and festival is a bit different than most of the others. There are only 135 students or so. They stay for eight weeks of intensive study and performance. Every one of them comes on a full scholarship, showing the commitment of the community. I did wonder whether the locals were referred to as “Santa Barbarians.”

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  • AUGUST 2011

    July was not a month for music, at least as far as I was concerned.

    Upon returning from South America, it was my job to take care of Cindy, who would be undergoing a double mastectomy at the beginning of the month. There were numerous decisions to be made, all of them difficult. One of the most important things we discovered throughout this process was how many people either had undergone some form of the cancer or knew someone who did. Getting information was not so problematic.

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  • JULY 2011

    What a strange month June turned out to be. It looked pretty simple on paper. One week of concerts in Detroit and a trip to Rotterdam, preparing for a tour of South America.

    But normal does not seem to apply these days.

    To start with, I began French lessons in preparation for the new job in Lyon. When I was in high school, French was actually my foreign language and I have usually managed to get by when travelling to Paris and other destinations in France. Cindy was also on board for this education experience.

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  • JUNE 2011

    About halfway through May, I started thinking about some of the composers I would be conducting just in a four-week span. The list is something like this:

    Prokofiev
    Del Tredici
    Milhaud
    Gershwin
    Dvořák
    Beethoven
    Tchaikovsky

    This reminded me of how fortunate I am to be in the music profession. Rehearsing and performing compositions of this caliber week in and out is something that none of us must ever take for granted. It remains a privilege as well as a responsibility to take care of these masters and all the others that we musicians present.

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