The month of June has been quite exciting for me. First, we wrapped up the subscription season of the NSO with the premiere of a harp concerto. The soloist was the orchestra’s principal harpist, Dotian Levalier, who played with great feeling and panache. The piece is by Mark Adamo, who is primarily known as an opera composer. The lyrical elements would certainly bear out his reputation in this field, but his use of the orchestra was outstanding, and I believe many harpists will want to take up the work.
The following week saw the conclusion of the eighth National Conducting Institute. The four conductors who debuted with the orchestra each showed flair and talent. It still amazes me that different musicians can stand before the orchestra and each one produces his or her own sound. The more individual the conductor, the more personal that sound can be. It also provides the players with a keener understanding of the inner workings of the conductor’s art.
During that week, it was announced that I would become the Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony, beginning in the 2008-09 season. The current contract calls for three years of participation with the orchestra and at least four weeks each season. The position came about as a direct result of my work with the orchestra last year. Twice I was asked to fill in at the last minute. It became clear that the orchestra and I had something special working together and this is the result. I could not be happier.
The following week saw me in Nashville. During the first week, we hosted the American Symphony Orchestra League during their annual conference. The culmination was a concert by the other NSO, at which we performed a compilation I put together of different orchestrations of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The concluding Great Gate of Kiev adds organ and men’s chorus. We recorded the concert for Naxos, and it will be released within the next six months.
Another recording project wrapped up June in Nashville. This one is devoted to works inspired by Lincoln. With the anniversary of his birth coming up, we have more to offer than just the traditional piece by Copland. It has been amazing to research this and discover so many pieces by composers as diverse as Gould, Bennett, Weinberger and, yes, Donizetti.
It has been a frantic month but a most interesting one. July should be equally busy.