Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS—The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra announced today that conductor Krzysztof Urbański will become their next Music Director effective Sept. 1, 2011 for an initial four-year term and becomes the Music Director Designate effective immediately. Mr. Urbański is the seventh Music Director in the Indianapolis Symphony’s 80-year history and, at age 28, is the youngest among major orchestras in the United States.
Born in Poland, Mr. Urbański has attracted a considerable amount of attention with orchestras throughout Europe and in Japan during the last few years. He was named chief conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway after just one appearance with that orchestra in September, 2009. Mr. Urbański’s highly acclaimed U.S. debut occurred in concerts with the Indianapolis Symphony on April 16 and 17, 2010. After making an extremely positive impression on the ISO musicians, he was invited to return to Indianapolis to lead the orchestra at the opening of its summer series, Marsh Symphony on the Prairie. In September, the search committee unanimously voted to appoint Mr. Urbański to the post, and the ISO musicians overwhelmingly supported the recommendation.
“It’s such an honor for me to join this great orchestra,” said Urbański. “When I was here for my debut, I found the musicians so inspiring to work with and responsive to my direction. I look forward to creating music with this extraordinary orchestra, making a home here in Indianapolis with my wife, Joanna, and becoming a member of this community.”
As Music Director, Mr. Urbański will be responsible for leading the artistic vision of the ISO; strengthening the organization’s profile at home and abroad; providing insight and service to the organization’s educational and community initiatives; and presiding over auditions for vacancies within the orchestra. As Music Director Designate, Mr. Urbański will return for concerts on May 20 and 21, 2011. In the 2011-2012 season, he will conduct for six weeks, including the ISO’s Opening Night Gala in September. The following seasons, he will conduct a minimum of 10 weeks. In addition, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will be honoring Mr. Urbański by appointing him Adjunct Professor of Music (Orchestral Conducting) when his tenure begins in 2011.
“The musicians are excited to embark on the next chapter of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Urbański,” said Rick Graef, Assistant Principal Horn and member of the search committee. “He has shown the energy, artistic vision and passion to take us to new musical heights. His skills, when combined with the talent, creativity, and musicality of our ISO musicians, will create exciting experiences for our audiences.”
“From the moment that Krzysztof arrived on the podium we knew that he was extraordinarily gifted,” said Simon Crookall, President and CEO. “We were electrified and inspired by his passion and artistry and the audience responded immediately to his energy and musical vision. We are all looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.”
Following his U.S. debut with the ISO, Mr. Urbański made his celebrated debut with Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra and the Houston Symphony and continues an extensive schedule of guest conducting engagements this season with orchestras throughout Europe and in Japan. He graduated from the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw in 2007, and in the same year was the unanimous First Prize Winner of the Prague Spring International Conducting Competition.
The search for a new Music Director began in September 2009 after Mario Venzago’s seven-year tenure concluded. During the 2009-2010 season, the ISO invited 18 guest conductors to lead the orchestra in various performances within the ISO’s Lilly Classical Series and Symphonic Hits Powered by Lilly series. Prior to Mr. Venzago, Maestro Raymond Leppard served a 14-year term as Music Director of the ISO from 1987-2001 and currently serves as ISO’s Conductor Laureate. Jack Everly serves as the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor.
“The ISO has served as a cornerstone of the city’s cultural community for 80 years,” said John Thornburgh, chairman of the ISO Board of Directors. “With Krzysztof’s leadership, we anticipate the continued transformation of the organization as one that will present innovative concerts to reach more diverse audiences, bring collaborative music education programs into our schools and neighborhoods, and be fiscally secure and valued by the central Indiana area and beyond.”
This is incredible news for Indianapolis! Finally, the orchestra can begin to crawl out of the slump it's been in! This is beyond exciting for me--I imagine even more so for the orchestra! I can't wait to see and hear their 2011 Opening Gala--I wouldn't miss that for the world!
Right now I'm too giddy to write much more--but I'll be commenting on this wonderful news again soon. Time to go CELEBRATE!!!
Monday, October 18, 2010
The speakers in attendance will include the Hon. Greg Ballard, Mayor of Indianapolis; ISO President and CEO Simon Crookall; Indiana Symphony Society Board Chairman John Thornburgh; and the new Music Director.
Following brief statements by all, the new Music Director will be available from 1:30-2 p.m. for interviews. To schedule some additional interview time for the afternoon of Oct. 19, please contact Jessica Di Santo at email@example.com. "
This was the first time I have ever heard the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and I was impressed with their high level of performance. I am more than sure that it's due to their dedication and hard work--yet I also believe that Maestro van Zweden has something to do with it as well.
Being that he spent quite a bit of time as a concertmaster of a major orchestra, he clearly knows what it's like to be on both sides of the podium. He understand what an orchestra wants and needs from their conductor, and vice versa. He clearly knows what effective communication is! As I was watching him, I thought about how clear and precise his demands on the orchestra and chorus were, yet they were never pedantic. He has an incredible power within his hands, to create and mold a sound like I've very rarely seen. Add to that an orchestra that seems to want to be created and molded, and voila--you have an amazing collaboration.
There was a very good balance between such a large chorus and the orchestra; such a large group could easily overpower an ensemble, but it didn't happen. The Dallas Symphony Chorus was just as responsive to van Zweden as the orchestra was, showing their incredible range and control over dynamics and phrasing.
Baritone Russell Braun gave a compelling performance, as did the last minute replacement for Laura Aikin (who came down with an bad bronchial infection of some sort), Jeanine Thaimes. She especially had remarkable control and command over her voice and an astounding dynamic range.
On top of all the chorus/conductor/soloists/orchestra goodness, the HALL was fantastic. Well, first off, it's truly beautiful--but even more beautiful were the acoustics. At the end of each movement you could hear the sound ringing throughout the hall, which is testament to the orchestra and choir's excellent intonation, as much as it the hall.
While I am no fan of the four hour drive to Dallas, I know I'll be making it again--I am really, really looking forward to hearing them again!
I'm also looking forward to visiting their little store--it's pretty awesome, as far as symphony stores go. Check out my new mug:
They had everything you'd ever want--music PJs, CDs, mugs, magnets, guitar shaped purses, beautiful earrings, shirts, oven mitts--you get the point. I could have easily dropped tons of money there, but the mug sufficed for me.
It'll be nice to visit the symphony store again--but it'll be even nicer to hear and watch van Zweden and his amazing orchestra!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Pretty cool, huh? I think I'm going to start collecting orchestra mugs. Every orchestra should sell one!
Anyway...while the HSO is away though, I still need my classical music fix...so this weekend I'm heading up to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
I have a few friends that have told me at great length how awesome Jaap van Zweden is, and I am looking forward to seeing him in action this coming Saturday--along with hearing the orchestra. They will be performing Brahms' German Requiem, which is a favorite of mine.
Unfamiliar with this work? Check out the video below of my favorite movement from the work--it's quite stirring!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
They also have a blog for the tour, which of course I'll be following (and you should too). I'm also looking forward to photos--especially the obligatory tour photos, like snaps of the orchestra on the plane reading their Kindles or listening to their iPods, and of course photos of people doing their laundry at the laundromat, eating various odd dishes (although it's the UK, it can't get that weird, and trust me I know--I was born there!), and standing in front of statues, etc etc. Gotta love those classic shots, ya know?
Anyway....we'll have more on the tour as it gets going. Have a safe trip, HSO!!
I came across a great picture from that evening, and thought I'd share it with you. It's a picture of an incredible section: one that never let me down! I have always been impressed with their tight, solid sound, and I hope I make it back to Indy this season to hear them again!
Monday, October 4, 2010
The program for the evening was rather conservative; the scherzo movement of Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings, his Violin Concerto in E minor, and Schubert's Symphony no. 9, "The Great". The first Mendelssohn was played well (some minor sloppiness in the violins) but was nothing terribly moving--but that's ok. It was fun and had a good energy about it, and I don't need something to be as deep as a Mahler symphony to enjoy it.
It was the Violin Concerto that had everyone going nuts, and I understand why. Joshua Bell plays fantastically--hardly a note misses, great tone, fingers flying at a hundred miles an hour, etc etc. Who doesn't love that stuff? His playing was of course impressive, yet to me it's not memorable. What distinguishes Bell from other extremely talented violinists? I don't feel like he has his own sound, his own signature sound that sets him apart from other amazing violinists. I was looking (hearing) for that, but never found it. I did find a great performance, just not a unique, distinct one. Regardless of what I thought--he came back out about four or five times, due to the insistent audience!
The Schubert is a pleasant, enjoyable piece--again, nothing terribly deep and monumental, but enjoyable nonetheless. As a bassist myself, I relished the third movement, with the great bass licks in it (which the cellos and basses nailed).
This was a more low-key kind of concert, but that's ok since other matters are more pressing: the Houston Symphony Orchestra leaves for a tour of the UK tomorrow! They need not play the entire Ring cycle or Mahler symphonies and song cycles before leaving for such a big undertaking!
MOMTB would like to with Maestro Graf, the musicians, and all the staff going along with them to the UK, the best of luck! I'm sure that you will all do Texas proud, and I look forward to reading the reviews! We'll be keeping up with them here, so stay tuned!