• DECEMBER 2014

    You never know what is around the corner.

    Musical pleasures abounded as winter weather started in a bit earlier than expected. However, one highly anticipated guest-conducting trip to Tokyo had to be cancelled. Turns out that I needed to have a medical procedure. Nothing life threatening or related to the 2009 heart attack, but still, it was something that could not be put off.

    All turned out well, and having a couple of downtime weeks certainly enabled me to catch up on a number of fronts.

  • NOVEMBER 2014

    And the celebration continued.

    With all the hoopla in Lyon, and especially considering that several Detroiters were in attendance, I could only wonder what they had in store for me back home. I did not have to wait long to find out.

    It was a pretty grueling trip, with driving from Bratislava to Vienna, catching a plane to Paris and then the 8-hour-plus flight home. The luggage came off quickly, and I was anxious to get to the car and go home. When Cindy and I emerged from baggage claim, the sliding doors revealed a huge throng gathered. It took me a second to realize what was happening.

  • OCTOBER 2014

    There is only one way to begin this. I can only give my heartfelt thanks to all of you who greeted me in one way or another for my 70th birthday. Sometimes it is possible to take your friends for granted, and sometimes you don’t even know who your friends are. On this occasion, I have been blessed with so many good wishes that it is not possible to answer everyone personally. So please let this be the thank-you card you each deserve.

    After the somewhat grueling summer sets of concerts, it was right back to work in Lyon, with no break in between. For many European and even American orchestras, September is a month that is difficult to sell. The French are just beginning to come back from summer holidays and are not quite ready to get into the routine of the concert season. For that reason, we usually play at a couple of festivals to begin our year.

  • SEPTEMBER 2014

    There has been a lot going on in my head for the past few weeks. Very little of it has to do with turning 70, but clearly something has caused me to think of many things that most likely have been swimming in my brain for decades.

    To start with, I was going to revisit, possibly for the last time, certain places that have held special spots in my musical life. Sometimes even I forget that for two seasons, I was the music director at Grant Park. For those of you unfamiliar with this festival, it takes place outdoors in downtown Chicago. For 80 years patrons have been treated to some of the finest music-making, and they do not pay for it directly. Indeed, it is the only city-funded classical music festival in the United States.

  • AUGUST 2014

    It was a very rushed period in Lyon. We had a concert to perform as part of a jazz festival, followed by just one day of rehearsal for a two-week tour to Japan. The “Jazz at Vienne” is an annual event that plays around a bit with the jazz format. Here it is meant to include most music that falls outside of the classical and pop repertoire, which does not explain the presence of performers such as Jamie Cullum and a couple others.

    Nonetheless, the Roman amphitheater, which seats, uncomfortably, around 10,000 people, was packed for our show. The ONL did an hour and a half set featuring the pianist Stefano Bollani. Although not so well-known in the States, he is a big draw in Europe, and I can understand why. Prodigious technique and exceptional improvisational skills are his hallmarks, and both were on display.

  • JULY 2014

    It was unseasonably warm at the start of June in Lyon. Temperatures soared into the upper 80’s. But it is always so lovely that not too many people mind the heat.

    Unless they live on the fifth floor of an apartment building and the elevator is not working.

    I have no idea how long the ascenseur had been out of service. All I know is that schlepping up the six flights—remember that the first floor in Europe is the second in the States—luggage in hand, was excruciating. Maybe this was fine back in the 18th century, but not many people made it to 70 years old.

  • JUNE 2014

    First things first. Cindy came through the brain surgery like a champ. The removal of the benign tumor took a little over three hours. She was home 48 hours later and communicating with friends and family. We are grateful to the medical team and all those who lent their talent and words of support.

    My role in those first couple of weeks was to simply take care of her. It was necessary for me to cancel an appearance in Naples, Italy, but everyone understood the circumstances. With the weather finally taking a turn toward spring, I could get outside and open up the barbeque season. There were no real dietary restrictions, but Cindy was not supposed to consume alcohol, meaning that I got one more glass of wine than usual.

  • MAY 2014

    In what was my final set of guest appearances for the season, I found myself having more than satisfying experiences for three weeks. Life on the road can be difficult, but if the music making is exciting, that more than makes up for the travails of the itinerary.

    For the past two years, I have served on the board of directors of the Manhattan School of Music. However, my actual experience with that institution has been minimal. This changed with a week spent working with the student orchestra, culminating in the very first appearance of that ensemble at Carnegie Hall.

  • APRIL 2014

    Probably about six of you are wondering where I have been for the past several weeks. Well, it seems that I have gotten a bit behind on my web postings, mostly due to an extremely busy work schedule. But here is the recap of those times past.

    It all started with a DSO trip to Florida. We had not been to the Sunshine State for four years, and at that time, we made some great new friends. Sadly, various elements conspired to keep us away until now, but we more than made up for the lost time with six extraordinary concerts.

  • MARCH 2014

    One of the pleasures of having two orchestras is the ability to spend lengthy periods with each, honing the sound and discovering the repertoire together. Such was the case in February, when I returned to Lyon for a three-week stint.

    The weather in the States played around with the flight schedule but in actuality, one man’s delay is another’s advancement. Cindy and I were able to change the itinerary so that we wound up in Lyon an hour earlier than intended. This was all for the better, as there were three very full weeks ahead.