Moore and Longmont Symphony explore “The American Frontier” in music

Veterans Day concert includes music by John Williams and Dvořák’s “New World”

By Peter Alexander

Conductor Elliot Moore and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra are approaching the 2017–18 season as a series of new frontiers.

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Elliot Moore in Colorado. Courtesy of Photography Maestro.

There are new frontiers for the orchestra, which has its first new conductor in more than 30 years. There are new frontiers for Moore, who moved to Colorado from Detroit to lead the LSO. And there are new frontiers for the audience, with new repertoire and new takes on old repertoire all year.

In the next concert—7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Vance Brand Auditorium in Longmont—Moore and the LSO are celebrating “The American Frontier.” Because the concert falls on Veterans Day, the concert is presented “In Honor of our Veterans.”

“It occurred to me that with our second program falling on Veterans Day, that would be a wonderful opportunity (for) an American theme,” Moore says. “So I thought it would be good idea to make a statement about America and our music.”

All the pieces on the program are written by Americans or in America, and a couple are specifically patriotic. The concert will open with For the Uncommon Woman, composer Joan Tower’s 1992 response to Aaron Copland’s World War II Fanfare for the Common Man, which will open the second half of the concert.

Also on the program are “Hymn to the Fallen” from the film Saving Private Ryan by John Williams and Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, performed by violinist Andrew Sords. The concert will conclude with Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World,” written in the U.S. in 1893.

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Joan Tower. Photo by Noah Sheldon.

Moore had a message in mind when he chose to open the program with Tower’s music. “It is a narrative in terms of what women can be doing,” he says. “Besides being equal partners to males in the military, women can be composers who have a lot to say, they can lead orchestras and be leaders in all different fields. So it’s a way of showing the possibilities that exist for equality.”

As a soloist and chamber musician, Sords spends a lot of time travelling. It’s not an easy life, but, he says, “Standing in front of an orchestra makes it all worth it, and I think how fortunate that I get to speak in the language of Samuel Barber.”

One of the most popular pieces Barber composed, the Violin Concerto combines soaring, Romantic melodies with jagged rhythms and spiky, contemporary harmonies. It is an unusually constructed work, with two leisurely, lyrical movements followed by a much shorter movement of non-stop virtuosity.

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Andrew Sords

Sords admits that he only recently added the concerto too his repertoire, although people had been urging him to learn it for about 15 years. “I was the only 30-year-old violinist on the planet who had never played it,” he says, laughing. But now he loves the piece. “It’s indulgent but not syrupy,” he says. “It’s lush and you get to pull a large sound out of the strings. It’s such a feel-good piece.”

Sords has worked with Moore before and is happy to be a guest with the LSO. “I’m just thrilled to be up there on stage a for the 22 minutes I get to share with the Longmont Symphony and Elliot,” he says. “He is a wonderful, classy, completely prepared conductor. I feel very safe with him on the podium.”

In his preparation to conduct Dvořák’s “New World,” Moore has looked carefully at the composer’s original score as well as the symphony’s history. From the score he las learned that many performance traditions are not based on what Dvořák wrote, and from the history he has learned about some American influences on the work.

“My approach before with this piece was that it was essentially a Czech symphony, written in the United States,” he says. “And now that I’ve been studying more of the history, I think that it is much more of an American symphony, that truly would not have been the same symphony had he not lived in the United States.”

Among other American elements, he learned about an opera Dvořák planned based on Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha. Although he never wrote the opera, it is possible that the slow movement and the scherzo of the symphony were based on ideas taken from the Hiawatha story. (Moore will discuss the history of the symphony and the possible connection to Hiawatha in a pre-performance discussion at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.)

Dvořák’s visit to America, Moore says, is only one of the “new American frontiers” represented by the concert. Those frontiers also include Aaron Copland’s creation of a unique American style, Joan Tower’s original and creative response to Copland’s fanfare, Samuel Barber’s composition of what Moore calls “the first great American violin concerto,” and the most American frontier of all, music written for film as represented by John Williams’ “Hymn to the Fallen.”

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The American Frontier—In Honor of our Veterans
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Andrew Sords, violin

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11
Pre-performance conversation: 6:30 p.m.
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont

PROGRAM :

JOAN TOWER: For the Uncommon Woman (for Orchestra)
JOHN WILLIAMS: “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan
SAMUEL BARBER: Violin Concerto
COPLAND: Fanfare for the Common Man
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”

Concert Information and tickets
Box office: 303-772-5796

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Longmont Symphony Orchestra embraces ‘New Frontiers’

Elliot Moore, new music director, opens the 2017–18 season Oct. 7

By Peter Alexander

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) enters a new era Saturday (Oct. 7), playing their first regular-season concert with recently-hired music director Elliot Moore.

Elliot Moore at Lake McIntosh - credit - Photography Maestro (1)

New LSO director Elliot Moore loves living in Colorado.

Titled “New Frontiers with Old & New Friends,” it will be the first major concert since the full retirement of Robert Olson, who was music director of the LSO for 34 years. “Having a new music director after 34 years is an entirely new frontier, for the orchestra, and maybe for the community,” Moore says.

The idea of frontiers runs through the entire season, from “New Frontiers and Old Friends” Saturday, to a program titled “The American Frontier” on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to spring concerts featuring a world premiere, music evocative of the sea, and the LSO’s first-ever chamber orchestra concert in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium. (See the full season here.)

The frontier theme also has a personal meaning for Moore. “Moving out here is definitely a new frontier, for both me and my wife,” he says. “I’m very happy to say that we love it here, we’re having a fantastic time living in the community.”

The additional theme of friendships old and new runs through Saturday’s concert. Foremost of course is the fact that Moore is making many new friends as he settles into the Longmont community. But that idea is also reflected in the music Moore selected for the program: Slalom by CU composition professor Carter Pann, Rachmaninoff’s beloved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with pianist Spencer Meyer, and Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

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Pianist Spencer Meyer

The first half of this program is devoted to new friends, including the pianist playing the Rachmaninoff, Spencer Meyer. “He and I share the same artistic manager and we’ve been hearing about each other for a long time,” Moore says. “I’m really excited to be working with him for the first time.”

In a sense the Rachmaninoff might be thought of as an old friend for musicians and audiences alike. With its virtuoso exploration of Paganini’s famous theme—used by numerous composers as a subject for variations—and the beautifully tender 18th variation, it’s a piece that everyone loves.

“Everybody does love this piece,” Moore says. “It has a lot to do with the great violinist Paganini and the story that Paganini sold his soul to the devil, and it includes the (melody of the) 13th-century Dies Irae chant throughout the work.

“When you know the meaning (of the chant,) which is the Day of Wrath, I think it gives the music more meaning and enhances everyone’s experience.”

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Composer Carter Pann

Pann is another new friend for Moore. “While we have never met, we’ve had wonderful exchanges on e-mail about his music,” he says. “I’m really excited to be working with him. Having such an incredible artist living right here within the community is inspiring.”

 Pann’s piece, describing a fast descent of a ski run, is filled with quotations from popular classical pieces. “In my head, I see Carter putting on his headphones,” Moore says. “He puts on his favorite playlist and starts zooming down the mountain. You’ll hear some works that are familiar to us all in his piece.”

Elgar’s Enigma Variations, the final piece on the program, is all about friendship. Each of the score’s 14 variations is a character sketch of one of Elgar’s friends. Elgar, who enjoyed puzzles, concealed the names of the people represented—some only slightly, by using their initials, others more carefully with puns or more cryptic designations. One titled “Romanza” is represented by a series of asterisks, which may stand for a local musical patron, who was away on a sea voyage, or a lost love of Elgar’s youth who had sailed to New Zealand years before.

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Sir Edward Elgar

Perhaps the most famous variation is titled “Nimrod.” In it, Elgar paints a portrait of a close friend and associate, Augustus Jaeger. In German Jaeger means “hunter,” which suggested the Biblical name of Nimrod, “a mighty hunter before the Lord.” Others portrayed in the piece include Elgar himself, his wife, and amateur musicians from Elgar’s circle.

Moore likes to note that some of the variations also tell a story that would be known to the subject. “One example is one of his friends, (who) liked to play fetch with his dog,” he explains. “The musical vignette is about playing a game of fetch, and the dog barking. That’s the story that the two of them knew about.”

The Enigma Variations can be enjoyed without knowing any of this, but Moore aims to provide as much information as possible. “I think the more you understand, the more fun you have,” he says. “I intend to give a talk, with some musical examples, to everyone who’s there.”

Enhancing listeners’ understanding and enjoyment of the concerts is one of Moore’s main goals as director of the LSO. Or in the poetic language of concert themes, introducing the audience to both new friends and old.

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Opening Night: New Frontiers with Old & New Friends
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
Spencer Meyer, piano
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont

Tickets

Elliot Moore is building bridges as director of the Longmont Symphony

First season is about connecting with local institutions—and friendship

By Peter Alexander

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has announced its 2017–18 season, the first under new music director Elliot Moore, and the consistent theme is building connections within the community.

Elliot Moore - credit - Photography Maestro

Elliot Moore. Photo by Photography Maestro

That and friendship. The first concert explicitly highlights friendships, and the entire season is filled with performances that developed out of Moore’s professional friendships.

“Building connections is something that I’m really passionate about with this orchestra and with Longmont,” Moore says. Some of the connections he has worked to establish over the coming season are with the Longmont Public Library, with local composers, with the Longmont Museum through a chamber orchestra concert in Stewart Auditorium, and with other local cultural organizations.

“These are friendships that I think are so valuable, and I’m happy that we’re highlighting that very thing on the first concert,” he says.

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Composer Carter Pann, one of Moore’s new friends

The season opening concert Oct. 7 features three pieces, each representing a different facet of friendship: Slalom by CU composer Carter Pann, who Moore counts as a new friend since coming to Colorado; Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with piano soloist Spencer Myer, a professional colleague and friend that Moore has worked with before; and Elgar’s Enigma Variations, in which each variation describes one of Elgar’s close friends, from his wife to his publisher.

In addition to Pann, the season includes another local composer, Michael Udow, a percussionist/composer who lives in Longmont. The LSO concert on Feb. 24 will feature the world premiere of Udow’s Mountain Myths.

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Percussionist/composer Michael Udow

Udow had been on the faculty of the University of Michigan when Moore was a student. “When I was guest conducting the LSO, Michael contacted me and said, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m living in Longmont,’” Moore explains. “I got to know some of his music, and thought that he writes really beautiful stuff. I was very happy to be able to draw on that connection with a fantastic composer who literally lives right there in Longmont, and it goes along with the theme of friends.”

Several of Moore’s friends will appear as soloists. In addition to Myer on the first concert, violinist Andrew Sords will play the Barber Violin Concerto on Nov. 11, and cellist Matthew Zalkind, Moore’s fellow student at Michigan who now teaches at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, will play the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 on Feb. 24.

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Popular children’s author Jack Prelutsky

Another personal acquaintance on the season is sure to attract attention. “I believe this is going to be a real feather in the cap of this orchestra and this season,” Moore says. “The main work on our family concert (Jan. 27) is Lucas Richman’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant. People are going to have an unbelievable experience because the music is so good!”

In collaboration with the Longmont Public Library, the LSO is bringing in to narrate Richman’s piece the well known author and former Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky. “Prelutsky is a music lover and a great singer,” Moore explains. “It just so happens that my mom conducted a choir, which she recently stepped down from, and Jack was in her choir.”

Another program that Moore wants to point out is the concert on Nov. 11, Veterans’ Day. Titled “The American Frontier: In Honor of Our Veterans,” the all-American program includes both Aaron Copland’s World War II-era “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and Joan Tower’s 1987 response to Copland’s iconic piece, “Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman.”

Other works on the program are “Hymn to the Fallen,” taken from John Williams’ score for the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, and the Barber Violin Concerto, played by Sords. The program closes with just about the first piece to enter the standard orchestra repertoire that was written in America, Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.”

Balancing the needs of the orchestra and the audience, Moore has put together a season with a mix of styles and periods, known and unknown composers. There are several pieces by living composers, but also many of the most popular classical composers are on the schedule as well: Rachmaninoff, Elgar, Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Vivaldi, Bach, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky. And the season will end with a chamber orchestra concert featuring the two most loved classical-era composers, Beethoven and Mozart.

Six‐concert subscription packages will go on sale by phone only on Thursday, July 6 (303‐772‐5796; 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Fridays). Prices and details will be available on the LSO Web page. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 28 by phone or online.

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Longmont Symphony
Elliot Moore, music director
2017–18 Season

(All performances at Vance Brand Civic Auditorium except as noted)

Opening Night: On the Frontier with Old & New Friends
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Spencer Myer, piano

Carter Pann: Slalom
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Elgar: Enigma Variations

The American Frontier: In Honor of Our Veterans
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Andrew Sords, violin

Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman
John Williams: Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan
Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto
Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9, “From the New World”

HOLIDAY EVENTS

The Nutcracker Ballet with the Boulder Ballet
Elliot Moore, conductor
4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3

Candlelight Concert with the Longmont Chorale Singers
4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17
Westview Presbyterian Church, Longmont
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor, with the Longmont Chorale singers & soloists

Vivaldi: Gloria
J.S. Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Respighi: Adoration of the Magi
John Rutter: Candlelight Carol and Angel’s Carol
Cynthia Clawson: O Holy Night
Holiday carols & sing‐alongs

Family Matinee Concert
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Concerto Competition Winner (TBA)
Longmont Youth Symphony
Jack Prelutsky, narrator

Matthias Bamert: Circus Parade
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 (Finale)
Lucas Richman: Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant

A Longmont World Premiere
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Matthew Zalkind, cello

Michael Udow: Mountain Myths (world premiere)
Saint–Saëns: Cello Concerto No. 1
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4

Tales from the Sea
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 7, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Sarah Barber, mezzo‐soprano

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)
Elgar: Sea Pictures
Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherazade

Museum Concert
4 p.m. Sunday, April 15, 2018
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor

Mozart: Symphony No. 35, “Haffner”
Beethoven: Symphony No. 1

Pops Concert: Divas through the Decades
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2018
Elliot Moore, conductor, with vocal soloists

In celebration of Mother’s Day, the LSO will feature music by and about women across decades and genres―from opera to cabaret, jazz and pop, and from Bernstein’s West Side Story to Lady Gaga.

 

 

Elliot Moore chosen to lead the Longmont Symphony

Moore will conduct the orchestra’s annual Fourth of July concert.

By Peter Alexander

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO) announced last night at their spring pops concert that its board has signed Elliot Moore to a two-year contract as its next music director.

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Elliot Moore, new director of the Longmont Symphony

Moore was selected at the conclusion of a year-long search that included appearances by four candidates with the orchestra. He conducted a concert with the orchestra in November. He will succeed Robert Olson, LSO director for the past 34 years. Olson conducted last night’s concert, titled “A Few of my Favorite Things,” concluding the orchestra’s 50th anniversary season.

Moore, who currently lives in Detroit, has said that he and his wife will move to Longmont by the fall, so that they can become part of the community. For the 2017–18 season, he will conduct all rehearsals and performances. These include six subscription concerts at Longmont’s Vance Brand Auditorium, the holiday candlelight concert and two Nutcracker performances with Boulder Ballet.

Because of the planning involved, it is likely that the 2017–18 season will not be announced until August. In the meantime, Moore will make his first appearance with the orchestra in their annual Fourth of July concert in Thompson Park. In the coming year he will also lead the orchestra’s community engagement concert for St. Vrain Valley School District fifth graders, and two concerts in the Stewart Auditorium of the Longmont Museum.

In a statement released by the Longmont Symphony, board president Robert Pilkey wrote, “The entire LSO family—musicians, board members, and our many volunteers—are thrilled to have Elliot Moore as our new music director. He will play a major role in civic and social activities throughout our community, paying special attention to our youth and the expansion of our community engagement programs. We’re delighted with Elliot’s enthusiastic commitment to continue the legacy of our iconic community orchestra.”

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Elliot Moore. Courtesy of the Longmont Symphony.

As part of a wide ranging conversation, Moore talked extensively about his move to Longmont. “The plan is definitely to become part of the fabric of the Longmont community and to really invest our lives here,” he said. “By being a member of the community, I hope that people will feel free to come up to me and introduce themselves.

“I hope people will stop me when they see me in the grocery store and have a conversation about what’s going on in the town, what’s going on in the community. I hope that my being here in the community will play a role in making the symphony an even more integral part of the Longmont community.”

Moore said he is looking forward to taking a role he described as the “full-time steward” of the Longmont Symphony. “I have various ideas about how an orchestra can really impact the community, how a symphony is a symbol of the community,” he said. “How players listen and respond to one another is symbolic of what a community does.

“One thing about a vision is not coming in with a preconceived idea, but communicating to community leaders, asking them questions, asking the orchestra questions, and asking the board members questions about their vision—where they would like to see the orchestra go in the next several years. So while I do come in with various ideas, I also want to make sure that what we do is authentic for Longmont.”

Moore is especially interested in the educational activities that the LSO offers. “One of the things that I am very excited about is the 5th-grade concerts that we have in January,” he said. “I want to have a further reach into education. One of the ideas I would love to do is to teach people who don’t have much knowledge about conducting—or even about music—what a conductor actually does.”

Moore has several engagements for the coming year outside Colorado. This is normal for any conductor of a less than full-time orchestra, in order to supplement his income, but Moore made it clear that the LSO will remain his top priority. “The rehearsal schedule and the concert schedule leave room for guest conducting with other orchestras,” he observed.

Moore was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and lived briefly in Denver when he was six years old. He has also lived in Texas, Cleveland, New York and Switzerland, as well as Detroit. He studied at the University of Michigan, where he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree. He has been conductor of the Blue Period Ensemble in New York and the Detroit Medical Orchestra. In 2015 he also became director the Michigan’s Five Lakes Silver Band.

He has led rehearsals and/or performances with Mexico’s Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, Canadian Chamber Opera of New York City, Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and Canada’s National Arts Center Orchestra, as part of its Summer Music Institute Conductors Program. After completing his doctoral work at the University of Michigan, Moore was invited back to lead programs of the University Philharmonia Orchestra and the Contemporary Directions Ensemble.

“The orchestra has a rich history and a great potential for the future.”

By Peter Alexander

Each of the four candidates for music director of the Longmont Symphony will conduct a concert during the 2016–17 season. When each candidate visits Longmont, I will take the opportunity to introduce him (and yes, they are all male). The questions will include serious questions about the job of a music director, but also questions that help introduce each of them to the reader. I hope this will give a clearer picture of the strengths of each candidate.

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Zachary Carrettin

The final candidate, Zachary Carrettin, will conduct the LSO on Saturday, April 8. The following works are on the program: A Longmont Overture by Kyle Kindred (world premiere); Violin Concerto Op. 61 by Beethoven, with Charles Wetherbee, violin soloist; and Symphony No. 8 in G major by Antonín Dvořák.

Here are his answers to the questions I asked:

What attracted you to the Longmont Symphony?

 The orchestra has a rich history in its city, 50 years, and a great potential for the future. In recent years, I’ve developed friendships in Longmont, initially through collaboration with the OUR Center and through attending events for A Woman’s Work, Arts Longmont and other organizations. Additionally, the Boulder Bach Festival and I started Bach in Longmont, a series at the Longmont Museum and Stewart Auditorium. Through all of these events I’ve met some of music enthusiasts in Longmont, and I really value these associations and relationships.

 How do you think about programming for a community orchestra? What would a season of the LSO with Zachary Carrettin look like?

 One should program the music the orchestra loves to play, and the music the audience will find interesting: moving, epic, poetic, fun and powerful. European composers from the 1700 to 1945 make up the bulk of our symphonic repertory, but there’s also amazing music by American composers. Spanish and Latin American orchestral music offers exotic colors, as does the music of French Impressionists. The Russian symphonists from Tchaikovsky to Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich are as important in orchestral literature a the music of Beethoven and Brahms. When I program a concert, I always try to include something unique, something special. For example, on April 8 the Longmont Symphony and I will perform the world premiere of a new work celebrating the Longmont Symphony by composer Kyle Kindred.

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Photo by Courtney Lee

There have recently been alarm bells for classical music and orchestras, especially the larger orchestras that have had serious labor disputes. Do you think that these problems will affect community orchestras as well? And if not, what do you think are the challenges for the smaller  orchestras?

 The financial challenges of an orchestra depend on several factors, and one of those is he orchestra’s desire for growth. Any kind of growth in the budget, in the visibility in the community, in the programming costs money, and this balancing of revenue and expense is the challenge of any non-profit arts organization. I don’t think the challenges are quite as steep for the community orchestras as they are for the full time professional orchestras.

Developing new audiences while captivating the loyal core ticket subscribes is the challenge of our times. Marketing and public relations can help with this by focusing on the exotic nature of the orchestral concert experience. When we travel to foreign countries we eat the food, we hear the language, we experience the sights and sounds. Similarly, we might begin to think of advocating a concert tourism approach in marketing, where we seek to attract audiences of all ages to be a part of the depth and the wonder and the splendor of the symphonic art form, an art “ever-changing as a river flowing.” (That’s a quote from Borges.)

How do you balance and prepare for the various aspects of the conductor’s job: the musical requirements, the social demands with the public, and the diplomatic demands with contributors, the board and musicians?

 The schedule of study, administrative efforts and performance is not for the faint of heart! Yet it is a life journey and a constant workout for the body and the mind. All these disciplines intersect, and the success of an ensemble is dependent on these intersections. I can only say that I try my best, and I learn as much as I can in my many professional engagements. All of these different endeavors require slightly different tweaking of the skill sets.

When the organization is progressing, everyone is inspired and everyone has the energy to do the work at hand. When the conductor is in the community, working with the chamber of commerce, in the public schools and working with donors and seeking advertisement and underwriting, all of this involves multiple people who facilitate these relationships, and it can be quite fulfilling. Balancing all of these disciplines contributes to a conductor’s ability on the podium and relationship with the orchestra.

For example, one donor might want to hear 20th-century unknown works, another one to hear the war horses of the literature. One musician of the orchestra might want to play more Haydn, another one might not want to play anything before 1800. So I think listening to the voices of everyone is step one. Processing that information is step two. But a music director also has to have a strong sense of his or her skill set and vision, because if one only listens to everybody else, one is sacrificing his or her own talents and experience.

carrettin_boulderbachfestival_cropAbout you now: Where did you grow up?

 I grew up primarily in Houston, Texas. I also lived in California, Illinois, Romania, Norway and Italy.

 Did you come from a musical family?

 Both my parents studied fine art, which is how they met—my mother was a recipient of a Fulbright study grant and lived in Venice, Italy, for a year, where my father was born and raised. My mom has been an English teacher for her career, and my father has spent most of his life working for restaurants. Both of them supported my musical endeavors wholeheartedly and with great sacrifice.

Who are your musical mentors?

 I admire conductor Carol Smith immensely. She ran the orchestral program at Sam Houston State University for 30 years. Her work ethic and strong commitment to nurturing young adult musicians have left a profound legacy.

My mentors also include Romanian conductor Dumitru Goia, who was assistant to Mravinsky in Lenningrad, decades ago. Another one of my mentors is the American conductor Donald Schleicher. But also the formidably exploratory violinists Kenneth Goldsmith and Sergiu Luca.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to the music magnet programs in the Houston Public Schools. My elementary school had 80 violin students, my middle school orchestra toured the state of Texas, my high school orchestra performed in Carnegie Hall—Dvorak Symphony No. 8, by the way!—and then I went on to pursue two degrees at Rice University, with additional studies in Illinois, Norway, Germany and Italy.

That said, I grew up playing fiddle contests at Texas rodeos, and played Tango Nuevo and have a love of Portuguese fado songs.

Are there any conductors today whose work you especially admire?

 One of the conductors who made the greatest impact on me was Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who never micro managed. He had an extraordinary sense of beauty of tone and expansiveness of line, and the greatest musicians responded to him attentively  and completely. Fresh out of graduate school I was in the Bergen Philharmonic and we toured Switzerland under the baton of de Burgos. I later learned that my teacher Ken Goldsmith had performed with de Burgos conducting, and Goldsmith’s teacher Nathan Milstein made recordings and performances with de Burgos, so I’m a third-generation violinist to perform symphonic literature with Maestro de Burgos.

Moving on the sillier questions: Do you have a favorite food or cuisine?

I don’t have a favorite cuisine. It depends on the weather and the season and all of that. My wife and I share a passion for exploring food together, from taco trucks to fish markets, to cheese shops to barbeque. In fact, once in Houston we ate three consecutive lunches on a quest to find the best barbeque restaurant in Houston. It turns out it’s in Longmont! It would be unfair to single one out—there are several that I have yet to enjoy. I will say that I’m particularly fond of the Rib House.

As you know, Colorado is an outdoor recreation state. Do you have a favorite activity outdoors? Or are you too busy shut up in your studio studying scores?

 I enjoy water skiing in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter, but admittedly only a few days a year. More frequently I walk on mountain trails with my dog, and especially in the  summer months here on the front range we really enjoy that. He’s a 5-pound Chihuahua named Apple with loads of personality and he never seems to get tired of walking. As regards score study, it never ends, but life seems to. One must study and live.

Do you follow any sport or team?

The symphony orchestra is the supreme example of a team sport. It is extremely athletic, from controlling the breath to controlling the muscles, and requires endurance. The team members have an uncanny awareness of one another, and their collective sense of timing is extraordinary. And they have to be flexible in their role, as the nature of the music requires them to change their position or their role on a dime. This is thrilling to observe, especially in a live concert. Sometimes audiences respond with the kind of enthusiasm we see at football games. And finally the conductor might be considered a coach, but ultimately the instrumentalists in the orchestra are the ones who execute the plays.

“As a conductor, the role is to help orchestra members . . . . so you’re serving them.”

—David Rutherford, candidate for Music Director of the Longmont Symphony

By Peter Alexander

Each of the four candidates for music director of the Longmont Symphony will conduct a concert during the 2016–17 season. When each candidate visits Longmont, I will take the opportunity to introduce him (and yes, they are all male). The questions will include serious questions about the job of a music director, but also questions that help introduce each of them to the reader. I hope this will give a clearer picture of the strengths of each candidate.

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David Rutherford

The third candidate, David Rutherford, will conduct the LSO on Saturday, Feb. 25.  Rutherford is well known in Colorado for his position on air with Colorado Public Radio’s Classical Music station, and in Longmont as rehearsal conductor and conductor of family concerts with the LSO.

His program will be: Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Marquez; Five Bagatelles, Op. 23, by Gerald Finzi, with Stephanie Zelnick, clarinet; Symphony No. 2 in D major by Johannes Brahms.

Here are his answers to the questions I asked:

What first attracted you to the Longmont Symphony?

 Years ago [former LSO music director] Bob Olson had programmed the Peter Schickele version of Beethoven’s Fifth where there’s two sports commentators, a play-by-play and a color commentator along with the orchestra, and I got a call to come play one of the commentators. So I came up and did that, and that’s how I first met Bob. There was a need for a substitute rehearsal conductor, and I said, “If you ever need anyone to fill in, let me know.” Bob said “Sure, go ahead and bring him in for a rehearsal.” Bob liked my work, so he asked me to do that again in the next season. He continued to like my work until he was using me exclusively [for rehearsals].

It was never my intent to overplay my role. I was hired as a rehearsal conductor, and that’s what I was. My job was to serve Bob and to serve the orchestra, and to get them ready for him coming in. And I was always really happy in that role.

How do you think about programming for a community orchestra? What would a season of the LSO with David Rutherford look like?

 The audience has to be kept in mind so that they get to hear things that they expect to hear and also get introduced to new works that are worth hearing.  So in any one of my programs you would find familiar and unfamiliar, in a balance that makes sense for that particular program.

A community orchestra is different from a professional orchestra in that these folks aren’t getting paid—or not very much. The reason they’re there is that they want to play—so, programming works for them that they really enjoy playing. Together we can enjoy exploring and making great music together, so that when we’re done with our process and we invite the audience in, sharing music with them and them sharing the experience with us, we all really enjoy what we’re doing.

I like to program in themes, and find music that helps you understand this theme, whatever it might be, in new ways. The nice thing about music is that it helps us understand other experiences. And so music always helps us to understand the rest of our lives.

There have recently been alarm bells for classical music and orchestras, especially the larger orchestras that have had serious labor disputes. Do you think that these problems will affect community orchestras as well? And if not, what do you think are the challenges for the smaller  orchestras?

 I would say that the challenges are very different. Because, once again, this is not a job for [the orchestra members]. Most everybody in a community orchestra is coming from work to something that they enjoy. The people are coming because they really love it and want to make music. And so the orchestra institution in this case exists much more for the players.

In balance, the reason a professional orchestra exists is not for the players, it’s for the audience. In a community orchestra, the orchestra exists in large part just for the players. Now that’s not to say that there is not thought of the audience. In fact, when the audience realizes, ‘Hey, these guys really love it,’ and the music that they’re making is really good, then the audience is brought along for the ride, and together then we become a larger community surrounding this music-making activity.

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David Rutherford

How do you balance and prepare for the various aspects of the conductor’s job: the musical requirements, the social demands with the public, and the diplomatic demands with contributors, the board and musicians?

 Isn’t that the thing about conducting? That it is so multi-faceted, and even when you’re standing up on the podium just doing the conducting thing, there are so many things happening simultaneously. I always describe the conductor’s mind as being in three time zones simultaneously. Because you’re creating the music in your mind ahead of the moment that it happens, and then there is the moment that it happens, and then there’s after it happens you are evaluating what just happened.

That’s analogous to so many things about conducting. Because you’re a cheerleader, you’re an advocate, you’re a disciplinarian, you’re a psychologist, a counselor—and that’s all still just standing on the podium! But then you’re also working with the board, and you’re working with patrons, and you’re working with the audience. And I think what it all comes down to is understanding as a conductor that your role is as a servant in all of these aspects, that you serve the orchestra. As a conductor, the role is to help orchestra members to overcome whatever little issues are here and there, and to come to that point where they can do what they want to do. So you’re serving them.

You’re also serving the audience in helping them to understand what’s going on, and to program in a way that they’re included. And serving the board, making sure that the orchestra that is on stage is the orchestra that the board thinks it is, and that’s a communication issue. So you’re serving the board in giving them the information that they need, and giving them the understanding of the orchestra that they need so that they can continue to do the work that they do. And patrons, in working with them, it’s serving them and trying to figure out how it is that they can understand the orchestra as an asset to our community. It is really the role of a servant in all situations.

About you now: Where did you grow up?

 In two places, but both in Colorado. I was born at Rose Memorial Hospital in Denver, and we lived in Littleton until I was 8, in third grade. We moved up to Grand Lake. So I grew up, really, up in the mountains. I went to elementary school, junior high and high school in Granby, driving that 16 mils every day from Grand Lake to Granby.

Did you come from a musical family?

 My mom played a little piano, my dad played folk guitar, so I know a bunch of old cowboy songs because of him.

I played trumpet in elementary school. In 7th grade I was able to play in the high school band if I switched to horn, so in 7th grade I switched to horn and played all the way through my first year of college. But in high school the big thing is to play in jazz band. So I told my band director, “I want to play in the jazz band!” He sent me home with a book and an electric bass and I started playing in jazz band the next day. That’s how I got started playing bass.

20DNLSOrutherford.jpg David Rutherford, Courtesy photo. David Rutherford

David Rutherford

I went to UNC for the jazz program. But they said, you can’t major in this (miming electric bass), you have to play this (miming upright bass). By the fall of my second year I had really pretty much fallen in love with playing orchestra bass. And so by the time I was a senior I was playing in six orchestras.

Who are your musical mentors?

 First and foremost would be Elza Daugherty, the long-time music education professor at UNC, for his understanding of how it is that we each individually have our own stories and our own connections with music.

Howard Skinner, the long-time conductor of the Greeley Philharmonic and dean of the School of Music at UNC, for his incredible musicality. He was very organized, very professional. I studied conducting with him and he was really amazing—and still is.

And third would be my bass teacher Ed Krolick, who has since passed away. But he taught me to think while I play. He would continually ask you, ‘OK, you just did this. Why did you do that?’ What he’s teaching me is that everything you do in music—that nothing’s left to chance. He also taught me how to play the bass, but he taught me to think while I play.

Are there any conductors today whose work you especially admire?

 You know there’s a lot. I think Andrew Litton really is a terrific conductor. I think John Eliot Gardner is really amazing in  getting what he does out or orchestras. And I really like his approach to that transitional, even late Romantic stuff, the Brahms, the recordings that he’s done with the Romantic & Revolutionary Orchestra. I just think he’s terrific. Yannick Nezit-Seguin is amazing. You could go on and on and on!

Moving on the sillier questions: Do you have a favorite food?

 My favorite restaurant in Denver right now is Café Brazil in Denver. I’ve never been in a restaurant that puts more flavor in its food than Café Brazil. It’s at 44th and Lowell. And so that’s really terrific. I like Asian food. I met my wife when I was living in Hawaii, and I miss the Korean barbecue that’s in Hawaii.

As you know, Colorado is an outdoor recreation state. What is your favorite activity outdoors?

I love to hunt and to hike and to camp. Backpacking is really terrific. I like bicycling. Any excuse I can get to head up into the mountains, because growing up in the mountains—I can’t be a conductor year-round in the mountains, but if I could, I would! I love the fresh air, and when I’m hunting I love being the only person within a mile of where I’m standing. There’s a solitude and a solace and a beauty in the quiet that I miss.

Do you follow any sport or team?

 I am the quintessential fair-weather fan of the Rockies and the Broncos. I don’t always watch.

 

It will be ukuleles and a witch for the holidays

By Peter Alexander

Ah, the holiday season. That wonderful time for your favorite carols, colored lights, egg nog and — ukuleles?

Sure enough, it’s all part of the eclectic mix of holiday music on the Boulder classical scene, featuring not only the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, but also Elphaba from the Broadway hit Wicked, alongside other events that have become part of the annual December concert schedule. The perennial best-sellers — the Nutcrackers and the CU Holiday Festival — are already behind us, but there is still plenty of music to look forward to.

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The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will be at Macky Auditorium Thursday (7:30 p.m. Dec. 8) as part of the CU Presents series. Known for their iconoclastic, not to say wacky, programming, the group promises to perform their usual combination of rock and pop covers, including music from Joni Mitchell and Pharrell Williams, some jazz and country songs, and classic Christmas carols.

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Dee Roscioli

The Wicked Witch of the West sneaks into the Christmas schedule with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, who are presenting A Wicked Good Christmas Saturday in Macky (7:30 p.m. Dec. 10). Scott O’Neil will conduct the performance, which will feature vocalist Dee Roscioli, who played the role of Elphaba in the Broadway and national touring productions of Wicked, and the Fairview High School Festival Choir.

Read more at Boulder Weekly.

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Holiday Events in Boulder

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8
Macky Auditorium
Tickets

A Wicked Good Christmas
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Scott O’Neil, conductor, with Dee Roscioli, vocalist
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Macky Auditorium
Tickets

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Boulder Chorale and Children’s Chorus

A Thousand Beautiful Things
Boulder Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, conductor, and the Boulder Chorale Children’s Chorus
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11
First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder
Tickets

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Kathryn Harms

Christmas with Ars Nova
Ars Nova Singers, Thomas Edward Morgan, conductor, with Kathryn Harms, harp.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11
St. John. Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine St., Boulder

2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Ave., Cherry Hills Village

Tickets

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Dark Horse Consort

Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem: Christmas Music of Praetorius
The Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Evanne Browne, conductor, with the Dark Horse Consort.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10
First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce, St., Boulder
Tickets

Candlelight Concert
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, David Rutherford, conductor
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15
Westview Presbyterian Church, 15th and Hover, Longmont
Tickets