Notes on a rehearsal: The magnetism of Maestro Muti

Picture from a 2013 Civic Orchestra open rehearsal. Photo: Todd Rosenberg

On Monday night, I attended an open rehearsal of the Chicago Civic Orchestra with Riccardo Muti. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say the experience changed my life.

Maybe it’s because I was having a crummy day before I squeezed through Symphony Hall’s all-too familiar double doors. Maybe it’s because the ensemble was rehearsing Scriabin’s beyond-exquisite Symphony No. 1. Most likely, it was a combination of several factors, but I think I know the real culprit: the man on the podium.

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“Serjan lacked the gravitas to make her suffering convincing: her character functioned at a consistent level of hysteria that proved exhausting to take in. Her vocal performance fueled further disappointment, pairing a warm middle with an upper register thirstier than a straight white boy on Tinder.” — The Chicago Maroon (Photo: Todd Rosenberg / Lyric Opera)

BREAKING: 22-year-old fills CSO’s principal bassoon post

Keith-main-image-884According to the Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Facebook page and The Oregonian, the Chicago Symphony has a new principal bassoonist—and a young one, at that.

Only a year after being named principal bassoonist of the Atlanta Symphony, 22-year-old Keith Buncke was just announced as the principal bassoonist of one of America’s most prestigious symphony orchestras. This news comes several months after former principal David McGill’s resignation and just on the heels of fellow double-reed player Eugene Izotov’s announced departure for the San Francisco Symphony.

Of Buncke, Mark Eubanks, former principal bassoonist of the Oregon Symphony, said that he saw “poise, confidence and musical maturity well beyond his years” early on in his young student. According to the Oregonian, Buncke played with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and Columbia Symphony while living in Oregon. (He hails from Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland.)

If you’d like to get further acquainted with Buncke, here’s an extensive Portland Tribune article from 2012 and a video of him playing the Beethoven E-flat Major Septet with fellow Curtis students from about two years ago.

It’s going to be exciting to see this story hit the headlines over the next few days. I can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu from when I first heard about Peter Moore’s appointment as the co-principal trombone of the LSO at only 18. Young people, unite!

The (other) C-word

Several days ago, I dropped my violin off at a shop in the Loop for a repair. As the luthier’s assistant offered me rental options, he casually asked what I was studying in school. I told him—English and Music—and added that I had aspirations of becoming a music journalist post-college.

He looked up at me, a gleam in his eye. “Ah, a critic.”

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