Have you ever experienced the world of classical music? The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is something Michiganders and visitors alike don’t want to miss. Today, Leonard Slatkin, Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, fills us in on the history behind the DSO and what’s new for concert goers this year.
Join Leonard for a live webcast this Sunday, November 11th at www.dso.org/live and follow #DSOLive on Twitter. Let us know if you tune in, or if you’re planning to check out an event in person this season!
A: I come from a musical family and my previous music directorships were with the St. Louis Symphony and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. In addition to my role in Detroit, I am also currently the music director of France’s Orchestre National de Lyon and principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Q: What do concert goers seem most excited about when attending a DSO performance?
A: The live experience. There can be almost 2,000 people in the hall but there are also 2,000 opinions as to how they enjoyed, or did not enjoy, the concert.
Q: What makes the DSO, Orchestra Hall and the Max M. Fisher Music Center unique?
A: As one of the great halls of the world it is inviting both visually and acoustically. Musicians love playing here and the intimacy and warmth of our beautiful home make the audience feel very much a part of the DSO family. We’re also excited to be situated in the heart of midtown, near our friends at the DIA, Wayne State, and the Detroit Medical Center, and playing our role in the revitalization of our city.
Q: What do you like most about working in Detroit?
A: The spirit of optimism that prevails throughout the city. We never give up because it just simply is not the Detroit way. And as many people know, I’m a diehard baseball fan who tries to never miss a Tigers game when I’m in Detroit.
Q: What’s new for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this year?
A: We’ve hired several key new musicians, all immensely talented and many of them settling in Detroit, including concertmaster (Yoonshin Song), principal flute (David Buck), English horn (Monica Fosnaugh), French horn (Johanna Yarbrough), principal percussion (Joe Becker) and strings (Sheryl Hwangbo, Rachel Harding Klaus, Peter McCaffrey and David LeDoux). Turning to our programs this season, we perform all nine Beethoven symphonies this February, all of which you can experience at Orchestra Hall or online at www.dso.org/live, and all four Ives symphonies, which we’re taking to New York City as part of two back-to-back performances at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra’s first visit to that legendary stage in 17 years.
Q: What concert would you recommend to someone who has never experienced a live classical concert?
A: At the DSO we have programs to fit a variety of tastes. For some it might be a Pops concert, like Home for the Holidays or the Music of Lennon & McCartney; for others it’s an educational event featuring the talented students of our Civic Youth Ensembles. A good place to first experience our classical offerings would be the December performances of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Q: How are the Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts and other digital initiatives expanding the DSO’s impact?
A: It is still too early to know but with over twenty five webcasts so far, it is clear that we have expanded our audience base to a global perspective – we’ve had viewers tune in from over 75 countries. There is no question in my mind that this is the path to the future and we are proud to be the first orchestra to make ourselves available to music lovers for free on the web and through mobile devices. Our Community Concerts and Neighborhood Series, both of which take us into venues throughout southeast Michigan, have also contributed to remarkable audience growth this past year.
View a Live from Orchestra Hall encore clip below:
Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008, having previously held that position with the St. Louis and National symphony orchestras. Leonard also currently serves as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon and Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and appears regularly with the world’s leading orchestras. An avid fan of the Tigers since joining the DSO, Leonard and his wife, composer Cindy McTee, live in Bloomfield Hills.