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November 1994 Articles
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Issue: November 1994

Search for Local Orchestra Leader in 'Short List' Stage

"We are now in the 'short list' stage of our meticulous search for the new Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra." This is what LMN learned just before its deadline from the Orchestra's savvy and experienced Artistic Director, Joseph Silverstein. "By the time this seasons ends, we hope to announce the person's name."

Detroit-born Silverstein is one of the most respected names in today's American classical music circles. As a talented violinist with the orchestras of Houston, Philadelphia, Denver and Boston – the latter a 29-year spell which included 22 years as its concertmeister and 12 as its associate conductor – and for the past dozen years the music director of the Utah Symphony, Silverstein has played with and under some of the most talented conductors and performers from here and abroad. His consulting talents as artistic adviser have benefited orchestras and audiences in Toledo, Oakland, Atlanta, Virginia and Orlando in addition to Louisville.

What does an artistic adviser do? He consults on programming with candidates including the selection of soloists. That is no small task. A major portion of it is taken up with programming by candidates for the orchestra's public appearances. That means Silverstein has to know well what is the orchestra's primary repertoire, what pieces it hasn't played for four or five years and what works he thinks will bring out the best in both conductors and orchestras. The latter requirement has to be concerned with artistic and personality rapport. It is necessary that the pieces selected do not primarily be ones for which the orchestra already has made its own. The rapport desired also required to take into account the ethnic and artistic complexity of the individual city's usual audience as well as its reactions to "new music."

Silverstein declined to give a number as to the membership of the Short List. As to whether it would include feminine and minority persons as candidates, he would only say, "Artistic competence has to take precedence over racial and gender considerations." Asked if there were financial limitations, he noted, "That will have to be determined only when we begin to negotiate with the most likely candidates."

As far as the criteria by which persons on the short list will be judged, Silverstein mentioned the following: musical skills that include the ability to provide collective inspiration; effective advocacy for the orchestra in the community; vision of the orchestra's possible future. He must have an extremely good sense of pitch and balance; a strong awareness of rhythm and a terrific sense of tempo.

He also has words of high praise for the local Search Committee: "They know what they are doing and they are among the most sophisticated musically of any people with whom I have ever worked." He went on to add, "Your orchestra is one of the outstanding in this country. I don't know if you all realize it but your orchestra's courageous pioneering of new music has immeasurably enriched the repertoire of many other orchestras in this country."

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