The program includes Stephen Paulus’ evocative Whitman’s New York, Robert De Cormier’s Legacy, Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, Morton Gould’s Quotations, and Charles Ives’ eccentric masterpiece Psalm 90. PlaybillArts.com had the chance to speak with Jack about his last season with NYCS and the significance of American Reflections as his parting performance.
Q: How does it feel to be concluding your final season as Music Director of the NYCS?
A: When my wife and I first began discussing the possibility of making this season my last as the NYCS Music Director she expressed concern that I would regret the decision once it was made. My response to her was that I would regret the decision no matter when it was made, after 25 years, 35 years years or 50 years, so my personal regrets are not a factor. I am confident that the timing of this move is right for the NYCS and for me and I am excited by the opportunities that such a big change offer the the chorus and me.
Q: Do any of the pieces in the American Reflections program hold a special significance in either your career and/or the history of NYCS?
A: Three of the five works on the program were commissioned and premiered by the NYCS: Stephen Paulus' "Whitman's New York," Morton Gould's "Quotations," and Robert de Cormier's "Legacy." I love all three works and am extremely pleased to include them on this program. Of more importance to me is the fact that this final program of my tenure consists exclusively of American works. NYCS concert productions are extremely expensive and I have always been very proud of the commitment the NYCS leadership has shown to producing music by living American composers despite the financial risks involved.
Q: Looking back, which performance/performances have been the highlight(s) of your tenure with NYCS?
A: It is impossible to single out any specific performance. I have always felt it to be a priviledge to make music with so many people that I count as friends.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My wife and I will spend much more of our time at our home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I have developed many musical collaborations and projects in Mexico, including the Music Directorship of Coro Filarmonico Universitario in Mexico City and the production of several choral cultural exchange programs through Voce in tempore and Fomento educacional
Q: Will you still be involved with NYCS? In what capacity?
A: I fully expect to have a lifelong relationship with the NYCS. In fact, as soon as my current contract ends I will sign on as the guest conductor of a NYCS concert tour to Sicily in July of this year.
Q: Favorite moments or moments in your career
A: Meeting my wife in the NYCS and proposing to her on the stage of Carnegie Hall
Q: What is it like to conduct such a great choral group in Carnegie Hall
A: Every time I am about to step onstage I say to myself "I can't believe they pay me to do this!" It is a dream come true.
Q: If I wasn’t a conductor, I would be…
A: A teacher of some sort