Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chicago Classical Review: 'Young Conductor takes a low-key approach to life and music'

[Kazem Abdullah (Photo from]

Kazem Abdullah has appeared in numerous posts on AfriClassical. He will conduct the Chicago Sinfonietta in Naperville Jan. 16, River Forest Jan. 17 and Chicago Jan. 18. Abdullah will also conduct Alabama's Huntsville Symphony on Feb. 6.
Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 1:33 am
By Bryant Manning
“Last fall at the Harris Theater, the young American conductor Kazem Abdullah led a group of Brazilians through rehearsal like a stoic military general. 'We need a much bigger diminuendo,' he said calmly, barely audible from even the second row. Moments later he broke into fragmented Portuguese and all the string players from the Orquestra de Sao Paulo smiled widely back at him. Running out of vocabulary, he coolly switched back to English. 'Now, experiment with the slow movement so you almost can’t hear yourself,' he suggested during Bartok’s 'Miraculous Mandarin.'

“Abdullah’s rehearsal style is similar to the way he gives interviews. He’s meticulously detailed, at times taciturn, even monosyllabic, and low on exuberance and hubris. Which is pretty unusual given that so many 'young rising stars,' as he is now regularly called these days, embrace the spotlight and milk their publicity opportunities for all their worth. Not this soft-spoken 30-year-old from Dayton, Ohio. It should be interesting then to see this young musician take on the gargantuan Beethoven Ninth Symphony next week with the Chicago Sinfonietta. It will be his first appearance with Chicago’s 'most diverse orchestra' and also his first public performance of the symphony.”

“Kazem Abdullah leads the Chicago Sinfonietta, soloists and Northwestern University Chorus in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at 8 p.m. Jan. 16 at North Central College in Naperville; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Dominican University in River Forest; and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at Symphony Center.; 312-236-3681”

Comment by email
I see that you posted about Maestro Abdullah conducting Beethoven Nine in Chicago. My wife and I sang all three concerts with Mr. Abdullah. The Maestro is wonderful - easy to follow and clear in what he wants. The performance at Symphony Center on Monday was a night I shall always remember - singing a symphony about brotherhood, just as Dr.King said in his I Have A Dream Speech. Michael Pettersen

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