Thursday, October 2, 2003

CSO guest conductor likes to tout amazing music


By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Andrew Litton, 43, music director of the Dallas Symphony for 10 years, has conducted more than 110 orchestras. He's also the first American to be named conductor of Norway's Bergen Philharmonic. We asked Litton, who guest conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra this week, to tell us about his work.

What: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton, guest conductor; James Tocco, piano
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Music Hall
Tickets: $13-$54; $10 students. 381-3300 or
Free Freshmen: College frosh are free on Friday. Call 744-3590.
The program: Berlioz, John Corigliano and Rachmaninoff
What are you proudest of achieving during your tenure in Dallas?

Doing four young people's concerts that we televised, called

Amazing Music. ... Amazing Music really got lots of people across the city excited about the orchestra. They wanted to come to it; they wanted to bring their kids.

Tell us about one of the programs.

The most fun we had was to have kids come up and conduct. Not only does it make great TV, but it also helps illustrate one aspect of conducting - keeping time. Invariably, they would start conducting, and either slow way down, or speed way up. The orchestra was instructed to follow whatever happened. It was hysterical, and their faces, as things were coming unglued, were priceless.

You are also an accomplished pianist. What made you decide to become a conductor?

I became a conductor because of Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts. I was growing up in Manhattan, and had been playing piano since age 5. When I was 9, my mom thought it would be a good idea if I went to these concerts. In one of them, Lenny did (Respighi's) The Pines of Rome, and it just blew my mind. ... I walked out saying, "I want to be a conductor." My mom rolled her eyes, but I was serious.

What are you doing in Dallas to make classical music fun?

We're trying to make our programming audience-friendly. This season, it's three faces of romanticism (Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn and Berlioz).

I definitely think that we've changed our attitude. Part of it is giving the audience what the audience wants to hear. When I first arrived, I didn't talk about the music unless it was something extremely off the wall. Now I talk more frequently, because in the endless surveys that we've done, audiences like that.

What's your marketing tactic?

We try to play the romance card on every avenue that we can. On the radio, advertisements talk about romance and bringing your loved one.


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