Col­leagues pay trib­ute to the de­part­ing MSO con­duc­tor.

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - BY PAUL KOSIDOWSKI

Edo de Waart’s MSO swan song.

BY AL­MOST UNIVERSAL con­sen­sus, Edo de Waart’s no-non­sense de­vo­tion to craft and de­tail, his ex­act­ing work ethic and mu­si­cal in­sight have brought the Mil­wau­kee Sym­phony Orches­tra to new heights of ex­cel­lence. But when I spoke to him in 2009, shortly af­ter his ap­point­ment as the orches­tra’s new mu­sic direc­tor, he was char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally re­served and re­al­is­tic about the fu­ture. “I don’t go in with a man­date or want­ing a cer­tain thing,” he said. “We work for a year and see how that goes. But I’m ex­tremely op­ti­mistic.”

This month, as de Waart con­ducts his fi­nal con­certs as the MSO’s mu­sic direc­tor, it’s clear that his op­ti­mism was well-founded. Known as an orches­tra builder, de Waart has made his mark on the MSO, even as the or­ga­ni­za­tion, like so many Amer­i­can or­ches­tras, has faced fi­nan­cial chal­lenges. We asked some prom­i­nent MSO mu­si­cians and as­so­ciates what the de Waart years have meant to them and to their orches­tra.

“The past eight sea­sons with Edo have been the most re­ward­ing pe­riod of my pro­fes­sional life as an or­ches­tral mu­si­cian. We’ve done Sergei Rach­mani­noff’s Se­cond Sym­phony twice with Edo. Most con­duc­tors make lots of cuts and it still feels too long. Edo makes none, but his de­ter­mi­na­tion to linger over lush mo­ments where Rach­mani­noff says to slow down gave the per­for­mances tremen­dous flow and mo­men­tum. That’s not the ab­sence of in­ter­pre­ta­tion, be­cause Edo is still do­ing a lot of shap­ing and bal­anc­ing and pac­ing. But it puts the mu­sic ahead of the per­form­ers – which is where the mu­sic be­longs.” Robert Levine, prin­ci­pal vi­o­list

“In­stead of try­ing to rein­vent the wheel, [de Waart] sticks with the straight­for­ward and self­less ap­proach that the great com­posers knew what they were do­ing. With his in­cred­i­ble ear and sharp ba­ton tech­nique, he helps us to con­vey the mu­sic and lets the mu­sic shine in­stead of us­ing it as some sort of tool to draw at­ten­tion to the podium.” Megumi Kanda, prin­ci­pal trom­bon­ist

“Out of count­less pro­found mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ences with Edo, our Carnegie Hall con­cert in 2012 lingers for me. On one of the most fa­mous stages in the world (with a packed house), there was the MSO with unique and in­spired pro­gram­ming com­bined with an orches­tra play­ing at the top of its game, and a con­duc­tor who in­vited and al­lowed them to do so.” Frank Al­mond, con­cert­mas­ter

“Ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion I had with Edo was about do­ing it right and do­ing it well. That didn’t al­ways mean do­ing it big and do­ing it fancy. It just meant be­ing true to your artis­tic soul and mak­ing sure you were un­com­pro­mised in your pur­suit of ex­cel­lence. In many ways that was per­fect for our time.” Mark Niehaus, pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor (also a for­mer prin­ci­pal trum­pet)

Sym­phony mu­sic

direc­tor Edo de Waart con­ducts a


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