September 1, 2007 leonard slatkin

The summer season is winding down and orchestras all over the world are gearing up for a busy fall.

For me, most of August was spent in Aspen, Colorado. Having been a student there from 1964, I have certainly seen not only the city, but the School and Festival change dramatically. What were once small, intimate and quiet entities are now players on the world stage. During the course of nine weeks, one can see and hear most of the great artists of our time.

I divided my time between conducting two different orchestras, teaching and trying to learn how to play golf. One plus for the latter is that the altitude—over nine thousand feet about sea level—makes the ball travel farther. Great for tee shots but not so good for short putts. One also needs a few days to adjust, as after the first 15 minutes of rehearsal, I was gasping for oxygen. Who knows how the singers and wind players cope?

The orchestras were comprised mostly of students. The Festival Orchestra has principal players drawn from a select professional pool. But all the other instrumentalists were playing the music on the program for the first time. I have to say that they threw themselves into the intricacies of Petrushka with great abandon, but with a real desire to make the most out of the score. The other orchestra was all students, with the youngest being a violinist eight years old! They tackled Pictures at an Exhibition, and I think it was an experience they will all remember. I know that I will.

After a much-needed week off, it is time to gear up and do battle with the airports. September has me in Copenhagen, London, Nashville, Los Angeles and Washington. This should be a most interesting month.

See you next time,

Leonard Slatkin