Praise for Maestro Stanisław Skrowaczewski, who conducted the Minnesota Orchestra’s opening concerts at Orchestra Hall on February 7 and 8, 2014. On Feb. 23, the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota marks the only formal birthday celebration worldwide for Skrowaczewski. The Happy 90th, Maestro Stan! concert features world-renowned musicians and original compositions to honor the Maestro on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 at 4 p.m. at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Pamela Espeland, 2/14/14
Gov. Mark Dayton has declared Sunday, Feb. 23 “Maestro Skrowaczewski Day” in honor of Stanislav Skrowaczewski’s enduring contributions to decades of classical music. That’s the day of the “Happy 90th, Maestro Stan!” concert in honor of his birthday. The concert was originally scheduled for Feb. 22 at Concordia’s Benson Hall but was moved from there to Orchestra Hall when the lockout ended. Unfortunately, that means the governor can’t attend – he’ll be out of town – but Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges will be there to make glowing remarks about the maestro. FMI and tickets.
Rick Nelson and Claude Peck, 2/14/14
Rick Nelson: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is my new role model.
Claude Peck: That nonagenarian, who led the Minnesota Orchestra in the 1960s and ’70s, is a marvel. Stan the Angular Man appears to have sprung directly from the pages of a Tim Burton storyboard.
RN: He’s nearly twice my age, and yet he seems to possess four times my energy.
CP: At last weekend’s opening concert, I loved Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony, but nothing showed off the Minnesota Orchestra’s sections quite so well as Stan’s orchestration of that Bach Toccata and Fugue. Hear now the xylophone!
Pamela Espeland, 2/11/14
“After Saturday’s concert, in the grand new lobby where many of the musicians went to greet fans and friends, principal trumpet Manny Laureano described with awe and wonder what he saw and experienced near the end of the second movement of the Beethoven: Skrowaczewski slowing a phrase, stretching it, pulling the notes “like so much taffy” – and wiping tears from his eyes. We all owe a great deal to Maestro Skrowaczewski. The original Orchestra Hall was his baby, and he opened it in 1974. How perfect that he was here to reopen the renovated space.”
“His 90th birthday will be celebrated later this month with a concert of world premiere compositions (including one by Skrowaczewski, written for cellist Lynn Harrell), arrangements by Skrowaczewski, narration by the Guthrie’s Joe Dowling and more. Presented by the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, originally scheduled for Bethel Great Hall on Feb. 22, the concert has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, and moved to Orchestra Hall. Tickets are still available and affordable: $25 general, $20 student, $15 student. FMI and tickets.”
Michael Anthony, 2/6/14
“…standing in front of an orchestra, [Maestro Skrowaczewski] seems to gain energy, as if drawing on currents of electricity from the musicians around him. The years drop from him like pebbles and, though it is surely an illusion, he looks taller. We can only wonder about this unusual, gifted man who has outlived all his peers.”
“Consider that by the end of the 2009-10 season, [Skrowaczewski] had conducted 4,441 concerts and made over 200 recordings, most of them still in print.”
“Deutsche Radio Philharmonic, the orchestra in Saarbrucken of which [Skrowaczewski] is principal guest conductor. The musicians there, it has been said, have coined a term, “Stanislove,” to describe their attitude toward their conductor.”
90th Birthday Concert
“Skrowaczewski’s [90th] birthday – and the fact that he is not only the oldest working major conductor in the world but a composer who has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize – was ignored in the United States, and, except for his dates in the Twin Cities, he has no bookings in this country this season. There are various theories about why this is so. Violinist Young-Nam Kim thinks it’s because Skrowaczewski has resisted self-promotion. “Stan’s as great a conductor as any of them, Bernstein included,” he said, “but he’s under-recognized.”
“To alleviate the situation, at least on the local front, Kim and [Frederick] Harris, whose generous, deftly researched biography of the conductor, “Seeking the Infinite,” was published in 2011, have put together a birthday concert that will be given at Orchestra Hall Feb. 23 as part of the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota series, of which Kim is artistic director. Several major composers – Gunther Schuller, John Harbison, Steven Stucky and Paul Schoenfield — have composed pieces in honor of Skrowaczewski. He, in turn, will conduct three of his own works, including the Symphony for Strings and the premiere of a brief work for cello — a “musical joke,” the composer calls it – to be played by Lynn Harrell, a longtime friend and colleague. Karel Husa, the 93-year-old Czech composer, has sent an elaborate arrangement of “Happy Birthday” that he composed some years ago but that has never been played. Joe Dowling and the Minnesota Orchestra’s former concertmaster Jorja Fleezanis will also perform.”
Larry Fuchsberg, 2/10/14
“[The concert] marked the formal reopening of the 1974 hall, renovated at a cost of $50 million. And it paid homage to Skrowaczewski, the orchestra’s beloved conductor laureate, whose 90th birthday will be belatedly celebrated with a Feb. 23 concert at — where else? — Orchestra Hall.”
James R. Oestreich, 2/8/14
“Clearly, a wizardly and respected veteran was needed to pull these motley troops together in a few days of rehearsal, and happily, one was at hand: the orchestra’s beloved 90-year-old laureate maestro Stanislaw Skrowaczewski…”