THE MAESTRO EXITS
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.