Strauss conducts Strauss

Richard Strauss conducts his own “Till Eulenspiegel.” This is a clip from the documentary “The Art of Conducting: Great Conductors of the Past.” The first voice you hear speaking is Yehudi Menuhin’s.

Carl St.Clair conducts Strauss’s “Ein Heldenleben” this week, doubtless with more enthusiasm.

 

Pacific Symphony’s Roger Kalia wins Solti award

Roger Kalia

Pacific Symphony assistant conductor Roger Kalia has been named as one of the winners of the 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Awards, the Solti Foundation U.S. announced Monday. This is Kalia’s third such award, having also garnered Solti career assists in 2013 and 2017. Seven other recipients from around the country were also named on Monday. The amount of the award was not made public.

“Supporting and encouraging young conductors at the beginning of their careers is the mission of The Solit Foundation U.S.,” said Penny Van Horn, board chair of the foundation.   Now in its 14th year assisting young U.S. conductors, the Foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in grants.

“The Career Assistance Awards from The Solti Foundation U.S. have been extremely valuable in helping me build my career as a conductor,” Kalia said in an email. “Due to the support from The Solti Foundation U.S., I have been able to observe rehearsals and concerts of different orchestras and conductors around the country, build and develop my score library, create high quality videos of my conducting, and network with a variety of people in the classical music field.”

The Foundation is currently the only American foundation granting these kinds of awards. Citizens or permanent residents to the United States who are career-ready artists in the field of conducting are eligible to apply. The Solti Foundation was established in 2000 in memory of the great conductor Sir Georg Solti.

Kalia began his tenure as assistant conductor of Pacific Symphony and music director of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in 2015 and recently signed a two-year contract extension. He is also co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival in New York. Previously, he was music director of the Young Musicians Foundation (YMF) Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles and assistant conductor of the Charlotte Symphony.

“I hope to use this year’s award in order to further observe rehearsals and concerts by orchestras not only in the United States but Europe as well,” Kalia said.

“I also plan on using a portion of the award to take German and Italian language courses, which are very important languages for a conductor to know, especially since I would love to conduct more opera in the future. I am most grateful to the Solti Foundation U.S. for their continued support and belief in me.

“I would also like to thank all of those who have helped make this award possible, especially my dear colleagues of Pacific Symphony and Maestro Carl St.Clair.”

Joining Kalia in the winners’ circle this year are conductors Daniel Black, Stilian Kirov, Farkhad Khudyev, Stephen Mulligan, Sameer Patel, Stefano Sarzani and Lidiya Yankovskaya. Visit www.soltifoundation.us for their bios.

Audio: Klemperer conducts the Overture to ‘The Magic Flute’

Here’s one of my favorite recordings of Mozart’s Overture to “The Magic Flute,” with the Philharmonia conducted by Otto Klemperer. It’s stately but never heavy, and finely detailed.

Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony give three semi-staged performances of “The Magic Flute” beginning this week. Tickets here

The daily routine of a master musician

Every artist should develop some sort of daily routine to further his or her art. Here, below, is the daily routine of the Swedish conductor/composer/trombonist Christian Lindberg. Regimented and extreme but effective, no doubt. And he seems a happy chap.

 

Rules for young conductors

For those of you who ever wonder what, exactly, a conductor does (and for those who are just curious), we offer you Rules for Young Conductors by the conductor and teacher Pierre Monteux. These won’t answer every question you might have about conducting, of course, but they will give you insight into some of the challenges and pitfalls of the profession. At the end, I append a video of Monteux in his 80s conducting the Chicago Symphony as evidence that he followed his own rules.

RULES FOR YOUNG CONDUCTORS

by Pierre Monteux

EIGHT “MUSTS”

  1. Stand straight, even if you are tall.
  2. Never bend, even for a pianissimo. The effect is too obvious behind.
  3. Be always dignified from the time you come on stage.
  4. Always conduct with a baton, so the players far from you can see your beat.
  5. Know your score perfectly
  6. Never conduct for the audience.
  7. Always mark the first beat of each measure very neatly, so the players who are counting and not playing know where you are.
  8. Always in a two-beat measure, beat the second beat higher than the first. For a four-beat bar, beat the fourth higher.

TWELVE “DON’TS”

  1. Don’t overconduct; don’t make unnecessary movements or gestures.
  2. Don’t fail to make music; don’t allow music to stagnate. Don’t neglect any phrase of overlook its integral part in the complete work.
  3. Don’t adhere pedantically to metronomic time — vary the tempo according to the subject or phrase and give each its own character.
  4. Don’t permit the orchestra to play always a boresome mezzo-forte.
  5. Don’t conduct without a baton; don’t bend over while conducting.
  6. Don’t conduct solo instruments in solo passages; don’t worry or annoy sections or players by looking intently at them in “ticklish” passages.
  7. Don’t forget to cue players or sections that have had long rests, even though the part is seemingly an unimportant inner voice.
  8. Don’t come before the orchestra if you have not mastered the score; don’t practice or learn the score “on the orchestra.”
  9. Don’t stop the orchestra if you have nothing to say; don’t speak too softly to the orchestra, or only to the first stands.
  10. Don’t stop for obviously accidental wrong notes.
  11. Don’t sacrifice ensemble in an effort for meticulous beating — don’t hold sections back in technical passages where the urge comes to go forward.
  12. Don’t be disrespectful to your players (no swearing); don’t forget individuals’ rights as persons; don’t undervalue the members of the orchestra simply because they are “cogs” in the “wheels.”

Video: Elgar conducts Elgar

As Michael Francis conducts Pacific Symphony in its first performances of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to share this historical film of Elgar himself conducting the “Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 1.

The occasion is the opening of the Abbey Road Studios in London on November 12, 1931. The words of Elgar at the beginning: “Good morning gentlemen. Glad to see you all. Very light program this morning. Please play this tune as though you’ve never heard it before.”