The voyage of discovery of great music

Introducing William Boughton, a candidate to lead the Colorado Music Festival

By Peter Alexander

William Boughton; photo by Harold Shapiro

William Boughton; photo by Harold Shapiro

Each of the three candidates to take Michael Christie’s position as music director of Boulder’s Colorado Music Festival will conduct concerts this summer at Chautauqua. When each candidate visits Boulder, I will take the opportunity to introduce him (and yes, they are all male). I will ask each candidate about his interest and ideas for the festival, and give him a chance to introduce himself to the public. I hope this will give a clearer picture of the strengths of each candidate.

William Boughton is the first of the three to visit Boulder, with performances July 6, 10 and 11. (Read about the concerts in Boulder Weekly.) To learn more about him, you can read his full press biography here.

Here are his answers to the questions I asked:

PA: What attracted you to the Colorado Music Festival?

 WB: Its history, its involvement with the community, and the quality of the orchestra. And I think most important is the fairly recent connection between the Rocky Mountain Center for the Arts and Colorado Music Festival. And I think that is a really exciting development for the board and the people of the community because it embeds the festival much more closely into the community.

What do you think are the strengths of the festival?

 It’s the orchestra, certainly, and from what I can see—I haven’t witnessed it yet—is the close connection with the community. Another thing is the concert hall, because it’s not your typical concert hall. It’s not a hallowed space where artists congregate backstage. There is no backstage, and it breaks down all sorts of barriers. We’re all there for one purpose: our love and the experience of great music, whatever the genre is.


William Boughton conducting; photo by Harold Shapiro

William Boughton conducting; photo by Harold Shapiro

Are there any things that you would change, or build up, or de-emphasize in the festival?

My two great loves are education, and that from cradle to the grave, for all people, the voyage of discovery of great music; and the community. We all constantly learn about new things. And American music is becoming very important to my life. The fostering of composers is terribly important for the future of the art form. And it’s important or all of us to know what’s happening around us. We don’t live in a bubble.

Do you have any specific ideas for programming at the festival?

 The programming has to relate to its audience—without knowing what that audience is yet. And I think that that a festival is a vehicle for bringing visitors into the town. So it helps with economic generation as well.

We hear a lot about a crisis facing classical music, with audiences declining and getting older. Andrew Bradford, the new executive director of the CMF, says he doesn’t buy that argument. Do you think there is a crisis, and if so, what should we do about it?

 No, I completely agree with him, I don’t think there is a crisis. I think that it goes back to the idea that musicians live in a bubble. You listen to what audiences have to say, and respond to audiences, while also taking them on a journey of discovery, and you have to combine those two things. Orchestral music and classical music is as important today, and as relevant today as it always was. These great works of art, whether it’s Shakespeare or Beethoven, they will never die. They inform us about who we are as people, as individuals. It’s music that speaks to us across ages, and, I don’t buy that it’s dead music and there are no audiences.

And now a few less serious questions. Boulder is known as a great city for foodies. Do you have a favorite cuisine? And don’t say English! I’ve had English cuisine.

 I’m even flattered that you put “English cuisine” into that! A lot of people would say the English don’t have a cuisine. My favorite is French cuisine.

Colorado is known for its outdoor life. Do you have a favorite outdoor recreation?

 I love hiking. We’ve just come back from Acadia National Park in Maine. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Hiking and gardening are my pastimes.

This year’s festival is taking place during the soccer World Cup. Are you a soccer fan, and if so, who do you support?

 I’m a soccer fan and I support the US! And Chelsea [in England], but I’m becoming really exasperated and annoyed with the English soccer team. It was almost as if they had no passion, or ambition, but the U.S. team is an absolute revelation. The Portugal match was incredible. It was one of the best games I’ve watched in years.

One thought on “The voyage of discovery of great music

  1. Pingback: Decision time is at hand for Colorado Music Festival | Sharps & Flatirons

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