Slatkin's Subbing Causes Stir at Detroit Symphony

Classic Arts News   Slatkin's Subbing Causes Stir at Detroit Symphony
Leonard Slatkin replaces the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's resident conductor Thomas Wilkins in a pair of concerts this weekend, a move that has caused buzz about the possibility of Slatkin becoming the DSO's next music director.

"Obviously, there's a degree of looking at each other just to see," the Detroit Free Press reported Slatkin saying about his current relationship with the orchestra.

The conductor last led the DSO in May in four performances of works by Sergei Prokofiev, William Walton and John Williams.

"We had an extraordinary time together," The Detroit News quoted Slatkin as saying. The chemistry kept getting better by the day, he told Mark Stryker of the Free Press. "I think they felt that way, too."

"The week went very smoothly," attested principal trombonist Kenneth Thompkins to the Free Press. "He has a great presence on the podium, a great stick [technique] and really musical ideas."

The strong connection between conductor and orchestra impelled the DSO to engage Slatkin this weekend at the Meadow Brook Music Festival in an all-Beethoven concert and a pops program.

"There was a special rapport, and we all agreed we should take this opportunity to explore it further," the conductor said to the The Detroit News.

The orchestra has been without a music director since Neeme J‹rvi left in 2005, and has since named Peter Ounjdian its principal guest conductor to smooth the transition.

Musicians in the search committee, evenly split between management and players, will not advance a conductor to a short list without approval from the majority of the orchestra.

So far, Rafael Fr‹hbeck de Burgos and Charles Dutoit, favorites of the DSO, have fallen through for different reasons.

Slatkin, who was appointed principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra last month, has extensive credentials.

During his time as the director of the St. Loius Symphony Orchestra from 1979 to 1996, he turned the ensemble into a top American orchestra, landing a 30-disc recording contract with BMG, touring Europe and Asia, and broadcasting weekly national radio concerts.

In 1996, Slatkin became the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra then named him its music director in 1999, a position he held from 2000 to 2004.

Slatkin will finish his tenure with the NSO in 2008.

"I'm thrilled there's such a buzz," said DSO executive director and president Anne Parsons. "The chemistry that the orchestra felt, that everyone felt ... That's why you go to live concerts. There's no substitute for that."

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