In Friday’s (8/7) Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Pierre Ruhe writes, “ ‘He’s 16? Sixteen! What’s next, they’ll be coming in diapers?’ Donald Runnicles was wisecracking with Robert Spano as the two Atlanta Symphony conductors held forth at a news conference announcing the upcoming season. … This Saturday, the object of their good-natured teasing will be headlining the concert that closes the ASO’s summer at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. He’s an unusual musician: a teenage Venezuelan-American making his U.S. professional conducting debut. Why the jokes? Outstanding young violinists or chess masters or tennis pros are common. Conducting prodigies are extremely rare, however, because leading an orchestra is a cumulative art that’s rewarded by life experience.” Ilyich Rivas has been compared to the youthful Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel, music director designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, are natural, though Rivas has never studied music in Venezuela, having been born there but raised in Ohio and Colorado. Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, “doesn’t hype Rivas. Rather, she describes him as a budding talent who’s worth nurturing. Starting next month, he’ll be in a two-year hybrid program, studying at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory while assisting at Alsop’s Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.”

Posted August 11, 2009