Friday, October 22, 2010

Los Angeles Times: “Pasadena Symphony's James DePreist keeps eye on 'artistic ball'”

[James DePreist is the new artistic advisor for the Pasadena Symphony. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)]

By David Mermelstein,
October 23, 2010
“The new advisor, a director of conducting at Juilliard, sees an opportunity to help guide the orchestra through troubled times and 'produce great music.'”

“In June, James DePreist, the director of conducting and orchestral studies at the Juilliard School and an elder statesman in American music, accepted the symphony's offer to be its artistic advisor for the present season, helping shape the orchestra's future and profile. On Saturday he leads his first concerts with the ensemble — the only one of this season's five programs to be conducted by him.

“The repertory — Rossini's Overture to 'The Thieving Magpie,' Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto and Brahms' Symphony No. 2 — is hardly avant-garde, but the soloist, San Diego-born Anne Akiko Meyers, is popular and respected. The program (presented at 2 and 8 p.m.) also marks the orchestra's move from its longtime home, the acoustically disappointing Pasadena Civic Auditorium, to the city's highly regarded but rarely used Ambassador Auditorium.

“DePreist, 73, seems to have no illusions concerning the difficulties of the task before him. 'My job is to keep my eye on the artistic ball no matter what happens,' he said over tea at his hotel on Thursday afternoon.” “As for DePreist's talents on the podium, there seems to be no disputing that. 'He's incredibly true to the music,' Meyers said. 'He's a deeply feeling person and has a gift for lyricism. We've played various violin concertos together, and every time it's a dynamic tour de force but not in-your-face. He's a poet himself, you know, so it's like poetic music-making.'" [ profiles James DePreist (b. 1936). Maestro De Preist has published two volumes of poetry and has his own website,]

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