hugh wolff tackles 10 questions

back-to-back interviews?!  yup.  this sunday and monday, the oregon symphony welcomes a pair of guest artists and this rodent was lucky enough to score interviews with both of them!  hugh wolff will be conducting the band in a program i’m getting more and more stoked about, and the urge to pick his brain was downright irresistible.  so i didn’t resist:

maestro, you’re on deck to perform the fifth symphony of jean sibelius ~ how would you describe this music?

Romantic, evocative, and dramatic.  Sibelius himself wrote in his diary about the grandeur of swans flying overhead his rural home: “They circled overhead for a long time, then disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming silver ribbon — the Fifth Symphony’s Finale melody.”

sooo looking forward to hearing you and the band play this work!  i notice a symphony by haydn opens that program… what 3 words best describe the music of this amazing composer?

Witty.  Inventive.  Energetic.

nice ones!  boy-oh-boy, sibelius and papa haydn?  this beaver is very eager this program.  so i’m wondering: do you play an instrument yourself?

Piano.  Chamber music only, at this point.

sweet!  in addition to conducting all over the world, you’re also a faculty member of the new england conservatory of music!  what are your major duties there?

I teach three graduate students in orchestral conducting and am in charge of four orchestras with over 320 students.  I really enjoy the youthful enthusiasm and willingness to take risks of today’s music students.

awesome!  hey, speaking of orchestras, do you see any major differences working with a european orchestra versus an american one?

These are generalizations, but Europeans (except in the UK) schedule more rehearsal time and therefore one can dig a little deeper.  Americans on the other hand are often quicker and more efficient.

must be that git ‘er done ethic of ours.  [ahem]  alright, i asked mr. helmchen about berlin, so i’ll ask you about frankfurt: suppose i had 48 hours in that city ~ what do you recommend?

Visit the Römerplatz, walk along the Main river, and go to the excellent art museums along the south bank of the river.

oh, i do lurv me some *ernst ludwig kirchnerviva die brücke!  sorry.  um, what’s so great about experiencing classical music live?

It takes you out of your everyday life and transports you to a new place.

amen to that.  okay, another random query: how many batons to you travel with?

Two.  One I have used for quite a while and one spare.  They are made of carbon fiber and virtually never break.  That’s an innovation by the baton maker which he probably regrets!

ha!  um, time for my mandatory question: if i could buy you a drink, what would you order?

A tasty wheat beer.

hmmm… may i recommend the *upright brewing #4?  wow, last question already: what are you expecting from our fair portlandia?

A beautiful city, an exciting orchestra, and a fun week.

well, ol’ beavey thinks you’re gonna get all 3 wishes fulfilled!  maestro wolff, thanks so much for taking time out for this interview – me and my readers really appreciate it!

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1 Response to “hugh wolff tackles 10 questions”


  1. 1 John Pitman Music Director All Classical Portland (KQAC 89.9 FM) November 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Thanks, Beav, for the great interview! For anyone going to the concerts this week, arrive one hour early for the free Concert Conversations! I’ll be hosting the chat with Mr. Wolff, and am looking forward to more insight from him about the music.


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