2003 Season • Article/Feature
Have Tux, Will Travel
June 11, 2003
Summer festival music directors’ to-do lists.
By Grant Menzies for Willamette Week.
It may surprise those who attend summer music festivals, listening to musicians in informal white jackets conjure the spirits of Bach, Beethoven or Duke Ellington, that pulling it together ain’t so easy. Not only does your typical artistic director/conductor have to weave a seasonal orchestra into seamlessness, he also hopes that the works he’s selected will transfer successfully from legal pad to concert shell. Which is why your typical summer-festival director has to occasionally savor the fruits of summer. The heads of three Oregon summer music festivals tell us what they do when they put down their batons.
SERGIU LUCA, violinist, conductor and music director of the Cascade Head Music Festival
When not teaching violin at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, running Context, his acclaimed chamber ensemble based in Houston, or performing and recording, Luca serves as music director of the Cascade Head Music Festival in Lincoln City. A summer festival he founded in 1986, it promotes not only the unheard but the unusual among masterworks of the Baroque and Classical periods. And can you think of another chamber-music festival where you can listen to an early-19th-century piano dubbed “Chickenshit” by Luca, in honor of its rescue from a chicken coop in the Czech republic?
Luca’s To-Do List:
1. “I do serious research into wines, and then drink them the rest of the summer,” Luca says with a chuckle. His favorite wine is the one with its cork out and contents ready to pour, but Luca judges Oregon wines superb by any standard.
2. Cooking, especially Chinese cuisine.
3. Catching up on reading and research for the next season and admiring his beach home’s sweeping view of the Salmon River Estuary.
DAVID SHIFRIN, clarinetist, artistic director, Chamber Music Northwest
Normally in Oregon for the duration of CMNW’s monthlong program, Shifrin will take a mini-sabbatical from CMNW duties this summer to “expand my horizons.” Translated, that will mean concerts in New York with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (for which he also serves as artistic director), at the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival and elsewhere. “It’s good to sometimes have no other responsibility than playing the clarinet,” he says.
Shifrin’s To-Do List:
1. This confession had to be wrung out: He’s taken up golf. Last summer, he took a course from one of the pros at Eastmoreland Golf Course in Southeast Portland, near CMNW’s rehearsal space. “I hate to say anything publicly,” says Shifrin, “because I’m so bad at it.”
2. While in Portland for the summer, he typically accompanies his wife, a dealer in antique English transfer ware, on seek and purchase missions.
3. Spend time with his 9-year-old son, who lives with his mother on the East Coast. “He’s enrolled in all kinds of sports camps in the summer, so I fly back as often as I can to watch his games.”
HELMUTH RILLING, music director and conductor, Oregon Bach Festival
Rilling doesn’t have much time during the summer for anything outside music. “Work for me never stops,” Rilling says. After Eugene’s two-week festival ends, he plunges into the Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart, a festival uniting 200 young people from 30 nations in one instrumental and vocal ensemble. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to work with young people from many countries, who become friends through the music.”
Rilling’s To-Do List:
1. In prior years, Rilling enjoyed exploring Oregon’s scenery while in Eugene for the Bach Festival, but lately he has taken advantage of down time to return to his country house outside Stuttgart in the scenic Schwäbische Alb mountains.
2. Studying scores, even during holidays. “But let me say that I sweeten that by smoking a good cigar,” says Rilling. “It’s one of my vices.”
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