• MAY 2013: New York

    From Motown to Manhattan. That was the slogan in Detroit for May.

    For the first time in 17 years, the DSO was headed for Carnegie Hall, part of the Spring for Music Festival. The basic concept was that orchestras were to present program ideas and those with the most intriguing would be invited to participate, six in total each season.

    Our offering was to present the four numbered symphonies of Charles Ives. This had never been done, as far as we knew, and the idea resonated with the presenters. We planned the last part of our regular season in Detroit accordingly, raised the necessary funds and thought we were good to go.

  • MAY 2013

    April in Lyon. Spring decided to wait a little before showing up.

    After the Moscow adventure it was nice to get back to my other home. These would be the final two weeks in the Auditorium, as it will be closed for about 5 months while crews repair the air conditioning and heating systems. Also, the organ is undergoing a transplant. New pipes and a general cleaning are in store for the instrument.

    In the meantime, we had two wonderful programs to present, each featuring Jean Yves Thibaudet, a Lyon native. I have said it before but it bears repeating. In my opinion, there is no pianist who has grown so much over the years. His approach to music has always been refined and subtle but during the past five years or so, he has captured the essence of the long line. It does not matter what he is playing, you can always be assured that Jean Yves will deliver an outstanding performance, filled with color and beauty.

  • APRIL 2013: The Russian Connection

    Rather than wait, I felt compelled to write sooner regarding my sojourn to Moscow at the beginning of the month.

    It is important to have some background in several areas.

    First, my family origins are in Russia with my mother’s family coming from Belarus and my dad’s from Odessa. Those of you who have read Conducting Business will know the story. My great-uncle, Modeste Altschuler, founded the Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York in 1903. He conducted many U.S. premieres of important scores from his homeland, including the 2nd Symphony by Rachmaninov.

  • APRIL 2013

    The end of March means one thing: Baseball is back! It is not as if I do not enjoy the other sports and certainly the University of Michigan seems to be doing well in the basketball tournament, but for me it is about being in the outdoors, for the most part, and following a couple of teams for the next half a year.

    Oh, there was music as well.

    After the Beethoven marathon, I had a brief respite but wound up taking a couple of days to work with the young musicians of the Juilliard pre-college orchestra. Their regular conductor was called out of town and I was asked to jump in. There is something totally fulfilling about working with talented youngsters that always energizes me.

  • MARCH 2013

    When asked who he thought was the greatest living composer, Leonard Bernstein replied, “Beethoven!”

    Having spent three full weeks traversing the nine symphonies, I can only come to the same conclusion. Of course there were weeks, months and a lifetime of study leading up to these performances. Thoughts and ideas changed and a feeling of being overwhelmed permeated my being.

  • FEBRUARY 2013

    When exactly do people stop wishing each other a “Happy New Year”?

    This one started out with quite a varied repertoire, and some interesting venues along the way. First up was Rotterdam, scene of the heart attack. The program was certainly designed to keep the festivities of January going, with music by Strauss Jr. and Gershwin. Many European orchestras celebrate for the whole first week of the month and the Rotterdam Philharmonic was no exception.

  • JANUARY 2013

    Happy New Year!

    The world did not end so now we must await the next apocalyptic prediction. In the meantime, there was a lot to catch up with during December.

    Following the Mahler 3 performances in Lyon, the next week was spent in the recording studio, or in our case, the concert hall. The ONL and Naxos have embarked on a truly ambitious project. We are committing all the orchestral works of Ravel to posterity. This includes the operas, other vocal works, transcriptions by Ravel and others as well as the usual suspects. There are some works that have never been recorded before.