In Monday’s (3/16) Washington Post, Mark J. Estren writes that after hearing five of six conductors, there is no clear leading candidate for the Fairfax (Virginia) Symphony Orchestra music directorship. “So far, all the candidates have offered similar skill levels in programs containing one work featuring a soloist, one shorter piece reflecting their personal interests, and one big and splashy orchestral showpiece. It is in the last of these—the standard repertoire works that lure audiences despite, or because of, their familiarity—that the conductors have shown themselves most distinctive.” Estren cites Gregory Vajda’s broad gestures, Daniel Meyer’s Bernstein-like manner, Laura Jackson’s angular movements, Marcelo Lehninger’s seriousness, and Paul Haas’s constant tinkering with tempi and dynamics. “Some of the conductor candidates have tried to charm the audience—which is invited to fill out comment cards after each concert,” Estren notes. “But how much sense can audience members get of these candidates from a single performance? Not really enough—and besides, many duties of a music director, from education and outreach to recruitment and fundraising, occur outside the concert hall.”
Posted March 17, 2009