Conductor Leonard Slatkin helps promising NRO musicians in Breckenridge |

Conductor Leonard Slatkin helps promising NRO musicians in Breckenridge

Kyle MacMillan
Denver Post Fine Arts Critic
(Andy Cross, The Denver Post)Conductor Leonard Slatkin has taken the promising young musicians of the National Repertory Orchestra through the twists and turns of classical works this week in preparation for a concert at 7:30 tonight in Breckenridge's Riverwalk Center.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin doesn’t typically try to lay out the meaning of complicated classical works. But some compositions, he explained during a Wednesday rehearsal with 90 young musicians in Breckenridge, cry out for explanation.

One such piece is Hector Berlioz’s rambunctious “Symphonie Fantastique,” a kind of hallucinatory self-portrait that ends with the French composer imagining himself in the afterlife.

“He’s somewhere in hell, and the devil is happy to see him, so we have to do everything possible to make this completely crazy,” he coached.

Slatkin, who has led several U.S. orchestras and serves as a frequent guest conductor worldwide, is leading five rehearsals this week with the National Repertory

Orchestra in preparation for a concert at 7:30 tonight in Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center.

The 65-year-old conductor could have easily secured a higher-profile engagement elsewhere, but he wanted to take a break from the professional circuit and make his first appearance with this respected apprentice ensemble.

“All my life I’ve been working with young people, and I started my life as a musician in youth orchestras,” he said. “Now, I’m at the point where I guess I have enough experience where I can offer something to them. I love doing it.”

For eight weeks each summer, the NRO provides intense training and performance experience to pre-professional musicians ages 20-28. Its alumni can be found in dozens of orchestras across the United States, including the Colorado Symphony.

This year’s participants, who arrived two weeks ago, were chosen from more than 800 applicants from top music schools and conservatories across the country.


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