Tuesday, January 25, 2000

CSO is what he was looking for

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Paavo Jarvi stands in front of the Music Hall Monday. He said the hall was one of the factors in his decision.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Paavo Jarvi spoke with the Enquirer at Music Hall on Monday, shortly before leaving to conduct the Atlanta Symphony.

        QUESTION: Why did you choose Cincinnati?

ANSWER: It's a matter of chemistry. Musically, the orchestra is in very good shape. I recently have had a chance to conduct quite a few big American orchestras. I felt (the CSO) is equal to the best, the top five.

        I feel that the whole organization works well. There is a certain stability. The mentality is now ready to try to go to the next level. That was what I was looking for.

        No. 2, Music Hall is a wonderful hall. It's a bit big, but acoustically and aesthetically this hall is a venue where one can celebrate music.

        Q: What is your immediate goal for the orchestra?

A: The main thing is the perception of this orchestra outside of Cincinnati, nationally and internationally. Somebody recently described the Cincinnati orchestra as the best-kept secret in America. The goal is to make it a bit less of a secret.

        There is no reason why (the CSO) couldn't be internationally important, either through our programs or our tours, or possibly, with broadcasts of concerts on the Internet. We could create international excitement commissioning music from brilliant composers.

        Before I would sign anything, that was one of the main things to get in verbal agreement.

        Q: What kind of recording arrangement will you have with EMI and Telarc, the CSO's label?

A: We are hoping to continue recording on Telarc. There is no substitute for tradition and long relationships. If there is no exclusivity with Telarc, which I have to find out, there is a possibility to do something with EMI. I don't rule anything out.

        Q: Will you make an appearance with the CSO next season?

        A: Yes, in October. We will try to do something exciting for the season before I start, but it is not finalized yet.

        Q: Should we expect to hear more Estonian and Scandinavian music on CSO programs?

A: Yes. I would like to introduce Stenhammar to this community. I will definitely do more Nielsen, Sibelius, Niels Gade, and some Grieg that might not be well-known.

        We are now discussing recording. I would very much like to do an anthology of the mas terpieces of the 20th century.

        Q: The CSO has struggled with an aging audience in recent years. How do you hope to reinvigorate the audience?

        A: We are very lucky to have those older audiences, the people who have been going to the concert hall their whole life, to whom it means something.

        How to get the younger people in the hall is a process that needs to be looked upon from the point of view of evolution. At some point, people will long for something more with substance, where quality and meaning become more important.

        In college I used to only drink beer, then I learned there is such a thing as wine. There's going to be a large group of people who are wealthy young professionals. These are people we should target.

        Q: What was your father's reaction to the news?

A: He's extremely proud. It's also nice that Detroit is not so far from here. It opens up all kinds of musical possibilities, to commission a composer that might be too expensive for one orchestra, or maybe a little swapping of venues. All things are possible.

        Q: Has it sunk in yet?

        A: I don't think it will sink in anytime soon, frankly. It is a big event that takes a little bit of time.


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