Author archive for leonard slatkin

  • 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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  • FEBRUARY 2011

    Last time, I wrote a little about the orchestra in Lyon and its ability to retain its individual sound and style. This hit home even harder with my next stop on the tour.

    Some people think that the Vienna Philharmonic or New York Philharmonic is the oldest orchestra in the world. In reality, it is the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. Its history can be traced back to 1781. The first well-known music director was the composer Felix Mendelssohn. The city itself is a haven for cultural mavens. Bach was here. Schumann and Mahler lived here.

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  • MID-JANUARY 2011

    Bonjour et bonne année!

    The better part of three weeks has been spent in France, two of them getting to know my new orchestra and city.

    But first, it was a little holiday. I must have been coming to this country for 40 years now, but there is very little that I have had time to enjoy simply as a tourist. Sure, I had been on the Bateaux Mouche and went up the Eiffel Tower, but rarely when I had some free time.

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  • JANUARY 2011

    When we last left off, the Detroit Symphony strike had entered its third month. Now the winter solstice was approaching. This year, it coincides with a lunar eclipse.

    “It’s a ritual of transformation from darkness into light,” says Nicole Cooper, a high priestess at Toronto’s Wiccan Church of Canada. “It’s the idea that when things seem really bleak, it is often our biggest opportunity for personal transformation.”

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  • Deborah Fleitz

    The majority of you reading this will not know the name, but you have been a part of her world. Deb was my assistant in Detroit. She was responsible for almost every aspect of my professional life.

    She kept track of where I was supposed to be and worked with managers, artists and musicians from around the world. Every time I wrote something for this site, it was her hand that dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.

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  • DECEMBER 2010

    Weather forecast. Stormy with little chance of sun. Temperatures remain chilly throughout the month. Expect a break in the clouds if the pressure lets up.

    The strike dragged into its second month and I continued to keep quiet. But this did not mean that I did nothing. Very few days went by while I was in Detroit, when I did not speak with board members, urging them to help find a way out of this. Most said they missed the orchestra but needed to hold firm. The indication was that when a settlement was reached, purse strings might open once again.

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  • NOVEMBER 2010

    Last month I wrote that I did not feel it was the place of a music director to comment on any labor dispute taking place with his or her orchestra. The musicians of the Detroit Symphony went on strike at the beginning of the month, causing the cancellation of the season opening as well as the concerts for the remainder of the month. There remains uncertainty as to when we will get back to work. Until that time, I will maintain silence on the matter.

    In the meantime, there were other musical assignments on my calendar for the second half of October.

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  • OCTOBER 2010

    Fall is upon us, and another concert season awaits. Here in Detroit, the orchestra is in negotiations regarding a new contract. It is not the place of a music director to get involved with either side, so I will not comment on the situation other than to say that I hope by the time you are reading this, a resolution has occurred. There is nothing better for us than to be making music.

    In the meantime, summer has passed and I must say that it was most enjoyable. After the Hollywood Bowl, Cindy and I got in the car and drove up the West Coast. For most of my life, I believed that the United States northwest border ended in San Francisco. But amazingly, there seems to be lots more to visit. I still love the California vistas that extend out to sea. Usually at this time of year, the view is limited by fog. This was not the case on our drive.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2010

    One big plus of doing an opera is that there is a lot of free time once you start performances. In fact, with the new/old Spratlan opus, we had one stretch of eight days off. This gave me a chance to do things I normally do not have time for during the concert season.

    In the process of writing my book, I have needed to do a great deal of research. Very gradually I am figuring how to manipulate around the net, looking for small details, quotes or information I might need. At one point, I do not remember how or why, this little item popped up, but it prompted a somewhat amusing chuckle from me.

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  • AUGUST 2010

    This is the summer way-out west tour. For the next couple of months I will be flightless and mostly humidity-less. Colorado, New Mexico and California will the performing destinations. A mix of student and professional ensembles will make up the musical landscape. The major project is the world premiere of Lewis Spratlan’s 1978 opera, Life Is a Dream. Unlike my last operatic venture, I decided not to keep an actual daily diary, but it is still helpful to let you know how a work like this comes to life on the stage.

    Prior to arriving in Santa Fe, there was a nice, leisurely drive to Breckenridge, Colorado. With no airports or baggage claims to worry about, all I had to do was program everything into Gladys, my navigation system partner. From Detroit, it looked like an eighteen-hour journey. Of course, it was not possible to anticipate side trips.

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