Harmony, Finally

The Charlotte Symphony hopes to appoint a new conductor -- or, as it's known in the biz, music director -- early next spring, chosen from a group of eight contenders who have each spent a short spell leading the symphony. We asked Peter Perret, conductor emeritus of the Winston-Salem Symphony and writer for the Classical Voice of North Carolina, to weigh in on who is most likely to take up the baton from among three leading candidates.

Conductor
THIERRY FISCHER
Principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; chief conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra
JAMES GAFFIGAN
Associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony
ANDREW GRAMS
Former assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra; former resident conductor of the Florida Orchestra
Upside
"He shaped his phrases with great detail. …The orchestra played well for him, but I don't know if they played well despite him or because of him."
"He was able to pace tension and relaxation of each movement in relation to the whole. …He's a big-picture man. Young conductors [Gaffigan is twenty-nine; Grams is thirty-one] attract big audiences. And young conductors improve with age. …It is a tremendous advantage."
"He's a complete conductor. And he's not showy. He has more of a dose of subtlety. …I have the feeling the orchestra really wanted to play for Grams. That's like sexual attraction in a marriage, and that's awfully important. It's not the only thing—it's the answer, not the question."
Downside
Perret noted in his review that Fischer's unusual conducting style was "sometimes flailing exaggeratedly" and that "the audience grew tired of his histrionics." He added that "he seemed to do a lot just for show."
"I wrote at the time that ‘I was only slightly disappointed that the young maestro chose Brahms's tempo over Dvorák's at the end [of Dvorák's From the New World.]' It reveals maybe that he is a bit more traditionalist -- in the sense that he is not so interested in knowing what the real Dvorák was, but rather the one that everyone else uses."
"I don't remember anything negative."
Odds 7:1 3:1 "What's better than 2:1?"

 
   



 

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