Olson heading toward the door after 33 years in Longmont

Saturday will be his last concert as music director, but he’ll be back

By Peter Alexander

Robert Olson has changed the Longmont Symphony, and the Longmont Symphony has changed him.

Olson photo

Enter a captionRobert Olson. Photo courtesy of Longmont Symphony.

“I’m very, very proud of what we’ve done over three decades,” says the director who brought the LSO from a group of raw amateurs who had to be led measure by measure through Stravinsky’s Firebird to a first-rate community orchestra that tackles major repertoire unafraid. And along the way, he says he learned something, too.

With a concert on Saturday (7:30 p.m. April 9, Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont), Olson will step down after 33 years as the orchestra’s music director—more than half the LSO’s 50 years of existence. He will return in the fall to conduct the opening concert of the 2016–17 50th-anniversary season, but most of the concerts during the year will be conducted by candidates to take his position.

Saturday’s concert brings to an end a season-long exploration of Russian music. The major work will be Tchaikovsky’s über-popular Piano Concerto, performed with pianist Chih-Long Hu, whom Olson has known for many years. Other works on the program will be the March and Scherzo from Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges, familiar from its use in TV shows and commercials; Shostakovich’s youthful Symphony No. 1, written when he was just 19; and one non-Russian work, the Intermezzo from Leoncavallo’s I pagliacci.

If this doesn’t sound like a valedictory program for an outgoing maestro, that’s because Olson doesn’t like to think about making a grand exit. “That’s not in my personality,” he says. “It would be fine with me just to quietly go away.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Robert Olson, music director
With Chih-Long Hu, piano

Prokofiev: March and Scherzo from Love for three Oranges
Leoncavallo: Intermezzo from I pagliacci
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Skyline High School, Longmont

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