This Week in Classical Music 1/07/18

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Levit Wins Gilmore Prize; Conductor Brings Orchestral Skills to Business Leaders 

It’s “This Week in Classical Music”—an update on what’s happening in the classical music world—I’m Randy Kinkel.


30 year old pianist Igor Levit has won the $300,000 Gilmore Artist Award, one of the most prestigious and unusual prizes in classical music. Sometimes called “The MacArthur Grant for Pianists”, It’s given to a pianist every four years. It is not a competition, so contestants don’t have to perform a special repertoire; in fact they don’t even know they are in the running.

What Happens is, a small, anonymous jury travels incognito to concerts around the world, searching for an artist with the potential to make a mark on music.  And this time, Levit got the nod.

Levit has recently been the subject of some controversy when he made a speech before a concert in which he criticized Newly-elected President Trump.

“I don’t think one should use the concert stage all the time for political statements,” he said recently. “But… I felt a certain urgency.”

Levit was born in Russia where his mother was a pianist and his father an engineer. His family moved to Germany in search of better opportunities when he was 8, and settled in Hanover, where his mother still teaches.  Levit himself now lives in Berlin.


 What is it about an orchestra that makes it work so well?  Are there lessons to be learned from the way they and the conductor collaborate?


Conductor Roger Nierenberg thinks there is a lot musicians can teach businesspeople.  For over 20 years, he’s run the Music Paradigm, seating executives in an orchestra and even inviting them to join him on the podium.

“You want to find out, what are the skills that THEY use? What can you steal from this orchestra, transplant into your own life, and bring greater success not only to yourself, but to all those who work with you?”

Among the traps business people can fall into is not communicating enough information or not specific enough information to everyone on their teams. Nierenberg explains: “What happens when you have one silo on its own standard and you have another silo on a different standard? The problem is…. these silos are not communicating across to one another. I know that there are strong players in the orchestra. I know that there are weak players in the orchestra. So what I try to do is, I try to get those people to collaborate. If I had said, now make it really beautiful, they have no idea what I’m asking for. A lot of times, leaders are sloppy about that.


For more on these and other items and events, go to the website, K-B-A-C-H dot org; Be listening each week at this time for another update. Follow us on Facebook and twitter, and also listen every weekday at Noon for the Most Wanted Hour with Linda Cassidy, playing your top 100 classical hits.  I’m Randy Kinkel for KBACH’s “This Week in Classical Music”; Member supported 89.5 KBAQ Phoenix and HD, a service of Rioo Salado College and Arizona State University.