carlos kalmar (!) tackles 10 questions

faithful readers, happy december!  to help celebrate the grip of holidays that have suddenly overtaken us, the classical beaver is delivering maestro carlos wrapped up in a cumberbund and bow.  a big, big, big thank you to coach kalmar for responding to these ridiculous questions… and extra points with gravy for being so prompt with a reply.  danke schoen!

what’s your connection to the band?

I’m the Music Director of the Oregon Symphony.

i’ll get the most pressing question out of the way up front: have you always had crazy conductor hair and is it a prerequisite for the job?

My hair happened only over the last few years.  It came out of being lazy, paired with the fact that I have a wonderful lady who cuts my hair, but she’s here in Portland, and it got long when I was 3 months away.  And now, having this mop on my head, I like it.  A friend of mine, who is in the music business, told me once: “Carlos, it’s not about your conducting – it’s about your hair.”

do you play an instrument?

I’m a violinist by training.  I play on occasion with some friends here in Oregon… NOBODY should listen to that (unless you had enough wine).

folks might think a conductor isn’t needed when you’ve got a stage full of professional musicians who know what they’re doing – any rebuttals?

Of course!  Conducting is way easier than some folks think.  And at the same time it’s considerably more difficult than musicians want to admit.  If I stop conducting, there might be a trainwreck in the musical sense.  On top of that, as far as interpretation and leadership goes, classical music is NOT a democratic artform.

if you could have dinner with 3 composers, who would you choose?

The composers would be Brahms, Mahler, and Haydn.  I can not see how these three get along as characters, but it would be a fun evening.

you have a tradition of performing a mahler symphony every season – which one’s it gonna be next year (and aren’t you running out of ‘em)?

Eventually we all run out of Mahler symphonies, and the fact that we have been doing one per year is kind of a coincidence.  Number 10 was played last week.  hmmm… I have no plans.  The world of music is so vast!

word.  if you weren’t a musician, what profession would you choose?

Some thirty years ago I asked myself that question.  When I uttered the word “politician” in front of my friends, they were on the floor laughing.  I’m still thinking about what I wanted to tell them when they chuckled so much about the idea.

if i were to buy you a drink, what would you order?
Strange idea.  Guys do not buy me drinks.

sorry – i was coming on a bit strong there i suppose.  ahem.  soooo, anywho… are you stoked by any non-classical music?

I’m a devoted classical music nerd who admires colleagues from the non-classical world.  Earlier in the season I had Rufus Wainwright, Thomas Lauderdale, and Storm Large in my concerts.  Delightful artists!!

what sets the oregon symphony apart from other orchestras?

I’m the wrong person to ask that.  We have a very devoted, high quality and hard working group of musicians here.  And we are very strong in many different worlds and styles of classical music.  I believe we are unique because of our versatility, but others can judge that in a better way…


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