Grammy Award winning Conductor Visits WAU

Grammy Award Winning Conductor Visits WAU

Sporting a black eye from a minor fall shortly before the first concert, Blomstedt light heartedly opened the session assuring the audience that his black eye was not a result of the critics taking issue with his interpretation of Brukner the night before. Far from it, the critics raved.

“What happens, instead, is an honest act of devotion: a performance in which every drop of the music is manifested. Details emerge that you are seldom aware of — phrases bursting out like popcorn kernels in the buildup to the recapitulation of the first movement or the tangy, crunchy contrasts between the sounds of different instruments as they pass around a single tune at the end of the second movement — all in the course of a narrative told so clearly, there’s never a doubt where in the piece you are.” (Midgette, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2012)

Born in 1927 in Massachusettes, but raised in Sweden, Blomstedt first began studying music at the age of 9, but was admittedly more interested in soccer than anything else. While being raised in a very traditional Adventist home, Blomstedt was encouraged by his parents to hone his musical talents for use in church. It took a dedicated and fine violin teacher to capture his attention and open his world to the possibilities of music. it was his musical journey, within the context of his Adventist faith, that framed the majority of conversation during the Q&A. “Being Adventist helps us be better musicians, and being good musicians make us better Christians”, he said. “Not that there isn’t sometimes friction – friction creates warmth”.

While fielding more questions about the intersection of professional music life and faith, it was a question from WAU music student Juliana Baioni, about attaining success that drew Blomstedt’s particular attention. “Success is a result of being good. It is not what you strive for – if it is what you strive for, it will most likely go wrong,” he cautioned. “Success is a result of striving to be good in your profession, to pay the violin better, to compose better, to write poetry better…Success is the rat poison of humanity – very few survive it!”

Humbly brushing off the enormous amount of work and dedication it takes to achieve a high level of recognition, Blomstedt instead credited his musical successes to God and the lessons learned in living a Christian life. “Whatever I do, interpret, or play is a result of being a Christian…A Christian always strive to be truthful, and honest.  We also know that as Christians we do not tamper with the Bible.  BUT, one text can have lots of meaning. Half the Bible is poetry and written prose! Parables were fiction to tell a truth – and so it is with musical text” he compared.  “It is sacrosanct. You cannot change that. So when you perform, you play as written! Christian grows up to respect the text, so to should a musician!”

Clearly for Blomstedt, the dedication to honest Christian living applies just as strongly to that of a truly dedicated musician. Emboldened by Blomstedt’s example and sage advice, the audience appeared to leave the Peters Music Center buzzing with potential and possibiity.

By applying principals of Christian living to our musical ventures, success, no longer a thing to persue, in its own way seemed sure to find us all!

– Preston Hawes, Director NEYE


Maestro Herbert Blomstedt

Herbert Blomstedt is the Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. He recently concluded his position of Music Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig after seven seasons, he remains Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and is Honorary Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo and the Bamberg Symphony. Maestro Blomstedt has guest conducted every major orchestra across the globe, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Munich Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He has won two Grammy awards, a Gramophone Award, and the Grand Prix du Disque. His many awarded recordings can be found on Decca/London and EMI among others.

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