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Internationally renowned conductor joins NRO in Breckenridge

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Estonian-born and American-raised conductor Kristjan Järvi joins the NRO at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday as a guest conductor. He is known for his charisma, as well as his passion for pushing classical music borders and bringing fresh ideas to orchestras and audiences.

Part of his enthusiasm stems from working with young orchestras; he is the founding conductor and music director of the Baltic Youth Philharmonic, comprised of young musicians from the 10 countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. He enjoys the fresh attitude young musicians, such as those in the NRO, bring to the stage.

“The most important fact is that they don’t have any hesitation to approach music for how it really translates emotionally and in the visceral experience physically, and how it translates to audiences,” Järvi said. “They have no preconceived notions of how it should be.”

As a result, they make the score truly come alive.

“Music is kind of a living, breathing animal, and I feel like you have to play the music just like you listen to music on the radio that you love,” he said. “It’s something that really makes you jump out of your seat and dance – you have to play the music the same way; it doesn’t matter if it’s rock ‘n’ roll or classical. Music is music.”

He aims to blend traditional classical music characteristics with contemporary compositions. As such, he has sought the commission of more than 100 works, encouraging composers to “think progressively and practically on the way they write music and how it will be executed,” he said. “If you write it in an understandable way to execute, it will extremely elevate the chances to be performed (multiple times).”

He reminds composers that legendary musicians such as Mozart and Hayden were very concerned with whether or not audiences would like music they wrote, and it should be no different now.

“I promote the idea of getting back to the tradition of classical music,” Järvi said. “We’ve forgotten and over-intellectualized (classical music). All music is concert music and is written to be performed for an audience.”

Wednesday night, the NRO will present Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major,” “Jupiter” from the Planets by Gustav Holst and “Concerto for Orchestra” by Bela Bartok.

Järvi particularly loves the Bartok piece, calling it one of the 20th century masterpieces that’s “extremely audience friendly” and highlights the various sections of the orchestra.

“It’s based 100 percent on folk music,” he said. “Even though it’s a 20th-century piece, it’s written in 19th-century tradition. When people heard it for the first time, they were surprised it was so accessible.”

Wednesday’s concert features Elizabeth Breslin on the viola.

Like Brandie Phillips, Breslin is spending her second summer with the NRO.

“(I) loved the passion that all of my peers had for music making and wanted to be a part of that again,” she said about returning this year. “Additionally, being offered the principal seat for the entire summer was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Even though there are many people in each string section, each seat in the section has a different role. The experience of leading a section and playing orchestral parts and solos that I will need to know for professional auditions is invaluable.”

What keeps you disciplined? There are very few jobs available, and the level of musical and technical ability as well as the number of young musicians auditioning to be in a professional orchestra is getting higher, and my goal to play in an orchestra is one thing that helps me have the discipline to practice. Another is simply my love for music!

Other interests: I enjoy baking and cooking for or with friends. I also love word games, Sudoku and poker.

Why is orchestral music important? There is so much great repertoire written for an orchestra, both old and new. I want to share this with the community because the experience to hear this kind of music in live performance is an opportunity not all are fortunate to have. Also, live performances help the music world connect to the communities in which we live, and it is imperative that we continue to nurture this relationship by making it something people can experience and enjoy in person to keep classical music a part of our culture.

Inspirations: Most musical experiences are influential and inspirational because the music moves me and the other people I am collaborating with, and there is always something to learn.

Most rewarding musical experience: In late April, I went to Miami to sub in the New World Symphony … and we played Debussy’s “La Mer” and “Jeux.” It was the best orchestra I have ever played with, and it was so exciting to raise my playing to that level and be a part of the beautiful music.


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