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Learning from a master

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

This week, the National Repertory Orchestra musicians will divide into two groups to play chamber music, in order for each musician to take a three- or four-day rest from their grueling schedule of rehearsing and performing an entire season’s repertoire in eight weeks.

The only one who doesn’t get much of a break is assistant conductor Stilian Kirov, but he’s learning so much from music director Carl Topilow, he doesn’t seem to mind.

The Bulgarian-born pianist and conductor has worked with many of the major opera and symphonic ensembles in France, Germany, Italy, the United States, and, of course, Bulgaria. Kirov secured his position with the NRO earlier this year, when musicians from the New World Symphony recommended him to Topilow.

“It’s a great experience, especially for a young conductor,” Kirov said.

Kirov is learning how to organize a season’s worth of music and how to help musicians learn it more easily and perform it better. For example, Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” becomes quite technical in the last section, as it switches rhythmically. Topilow stops at each bar and explains the structure of the piece so the musicians fully understand it. Kirov said many of the musicians made comments to him such as, “Finally, someone took the time to explain this.” Kirov is also learning how to avoid problems regarding the sound balance between sections of instruments – when they should stand out, and when they shouldn’t.

Saturday, Kirov conducts Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances from “Prince Igor,” Chausson’s Poeme, op. 25 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, op. 64, E-minor, otherwise known as the Fifth.

“Tchaikovsky’s Fifth is one of the great masterpieces,” Kirov said. “I’m sure the audience will enjoy it.”

Polovetsian Dances is a 10-minute piece with a light operatic and folk influence, while Chausson’s is an intimate, expressive piece. In true Topilow fashion, Kirov will share stories about each musical selection. For instance, about the Chausson piece, he said, “I imagine this piece as a sense of memory which you live through and you can’t forget.”

Wednesday, the NRO offers a more intimate atmosphere as a portion of the musicians split off to play a chamber concert. It features Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, one of his last symphonies and greatest masterpieces. The night’s program is diverse, with a French presence of romantic dances.

Friday, July 24, Topilow presents his favorite pieces.

“‘Topilow Pops’ has become an annual favorite in Breckenridge,” said spokesperson Connie Gruber. In addition to presenting Liszt’s Totentaz, Copland’s Hoedown from “Rodeo” and Williams’ Imperial March from “Star Wars,” Topilow will perform Immer Kleiner on his infamous clarinet. All of the above concerts are at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

“There is no better place to make music,” Kirov said. “The nature is inspiring, the people are wonderful and the atmosphere is great and friendly.”


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