THE MAE­STRO EX­ITS

ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM IN - For more on the TSO’s 2017/2018 sea­son, go to tso.ca. And for the full Zoomer in­ter­view with Peter Ound­jian, go to ev­ery­thing­zoomer.com/zoom-in-ex­tras.

You might call it “Ound­jian’s 3rd” – the third act for Toronto Sym­phony Or­ches­tra mu­sic di­rec­tor Peter Ound­jian, whose ca­reer as a star vi­o­lin­ist was cut short by a repet­i­tive stress in­jury in his hand decades ago. He tran­si­tioned to both con­duct­ing and, even­tu­ally, tak­ing the reins at the TSO and, now, as the 61-year-old pre­pares to step down fol­low­ing the 2017/2018 sea­son, we won­dered what the mae­stro’s pre­pared for Act 3. Mike Criso­lago: What was it that made you de­cide to step away from your post at the TSO af­ter 14 years? Peter Ound­jian: It’s al­ways good to have peo­ple ask you that ques­tion rather than, “Why did you wait so long?” [Laughs] I had hired pretty much half the or­ches­tra, and we have done some lovely tour­ing, some lovely record­ing, and it felt like a good time to go in a new di­rec­tion. It’s in­ci­den­tal, but I also played in the Tokyo String Quar­tet for 14 years. [Laughs] MC: Four­teen is a magic num­ber for you. PO: [Laughs] The dou­ble seven-year itch. MC: Do you have a post-TSO plan or are you go­ing to play it by ear? PO: I in­ten­tion­ally didn’t want to jump out of one huge re­spon­si­bil­ity into an­other. I’m go­ing to be guest con­duct­ing a lot of re­ally lovely places and I’m go­ing to con­tinue [teach­ing vi­olin] at Yale. I’ll never for­get Leonard Bern­stein talk­ing about as he got older it gave him more sat­is­fac­tion – ex­cite­ment even – to pass on ev­ery­thing he knew. MC: Is there a sense of trep­i­da­tion that comes with em­bark­ing on a third act with­out know­ing what lies ahead? PO: No, it’s ac­tu­ally re­ally ex­cit­ing … It prob­a­bly is a lot eas­ier for me be­cause of what I had to go through in my late 30s, when I couldn’t play [vi­olin] any­more. So, I’m not los­ing sleep. I am ex­cited about the op­tions and that I don’t re­ally know ex­actly what I’ll be do­ing in three, four or five years. I find that ac­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing. MC: Be­yond mu­sic, what other goals do you have once this TSO sea­son is done? PO: I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in ed­u­ca­tion and I have not had much time to learn things, to read or to maybe pol­ish lan­guages that I al­ready know, and maybe even learn a new lan­guage. That kind of thing stim­u­lates me. And pos­si­bly to have a lit­tle bit more time to make a dif­fer­ence on a more com­mu­nity level in some ar­eas of my life would be very sat­is­fy­ing.

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