Music Academy of the West Explores Haydn

A Conversation with Richard Feit Continued

David Bazemore

A few weeks ago, we ran the first half of a conversation with Richard Feit, the man responsible for programming the majority of the concerts every summer at the Music Academy of the West. We now return to that conversation in order to better understand some of the upcoming events, both at the Granada for the festival orchestra concerts and in the chamber music and the vocal programs.

Peter Oundjian is returning to conduct Gustav Mahler’s seventh symphony, and Leonard Slatkin will conduct the final festival orchestra concert. Could you say something about these programs? In the Seventh, which is the one Peter Oundjian will do, Mahler explores Nachtmusik, which is not necessarily about night as darkness and negativity, but rather about what can be great about the night, which is to cuddle down in the dark with your significant other and sort of float, and as a result this crazy piece is weird and glorious and full of things like hanging chimes.

Leonard Slatkin will be conducting Tchaikovsky. I’m a sucker for Tchaikovsky.

Will there be another chamber orchestra concert? Yes, the second chamber orchestra program will be at the First Presbyterian Church and will be conducted by Nicholas McGegan. He will do all baroque, and it will give him an opportunity to delve into period practice with the students while he prepares it. The acoustics there are very good.

What is happening in Hahn Hall? Many of the master classes take place there, but in Hahn Hall we have just a couple of things that are preprogrammed. In the seventh week, we don’t do a Tuesdays @ 8 at the Lobero because of the opera. So we are substituting a program at Hahn Hall on that Tuesday, something we are calling Plays Well with Others. It’s a tribute to the collaborator’s art, and Jonathan Feldman put it together. They are kind of the unsung heroes. They are the people who make us look good. A good collaborator is worth his or her weight in gold.

There are piano trios by Josef Haydn programmed throughout the Tuesdays @ 8 season. How did that come about? When I started programming this year, things were not looking so good in the world, and the economy was in a collapse, and I felt obligated to do something light and witty and wonderful, to give people some hope. And that wish happened to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the death of Haydn. It seemed that it would be perfect to have Haydn to express the backbone of the chamber music program this summer. So I thought that a fun thing would be to program Haydn’s trios, which you don’t hear a lot. But they are really these little gems, none more than 18 minutes, and they are full of brilliance and jokes and the kind of lightness that makes so much of Haydn so wonderful.

How does the vocal program come together? We take direction from Marilyn Horne about what she would like to do. Mignon is a piece that was one of the 10 most popular operas in the 1910s and 1920s. And then it just fell out, so it hasn’t been done that much. It’s a lighter opera, with a story by Goethe, and it is quite sweet. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I am very glad we are doing it.


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