Jack Lin is a violinist serving an internship at Loren Maazel's Castleton Festival in Virginia:
There are few times in a musician’s life when they truly experience something profound in performances or rehearsals. It is simply achieving a sense of artistic satisfaction through one’s art that makes it really meaningful to what we do.
When Maestro Maazel gave the downbeat to signal the beginning of Respighi’s awesome Pines of Rome, on opening night (Friday, June 22), everyone in the hall was brimming with excitement in the musical journey the maestro was preparing for us, not only for the evening but for the rest of the festival, and perhaps more.
Those performances by the orchestra were truly inspirational, and even though I was not playing amongst the orchestra, just watching them and Maestro Maazel has taught me much more about music and the music industry than all my years of music school.
Opening weekend was intense, electrifying, and insane due to the hectic concert schedule for our first performance.
We opened with an Italian Extravaganza featuring a series of Italian operatic overtures, preludes, arias with Denyce Graves, and, of course, Pines of Rome. That particular performance was awe inspiring with its finale brass fanfare, one that signals the returning victorious Roman Army and rallied us to our feet.
On Saturday night, I was Maestro Maazel’s designated personal assistant for the opening of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Before that night, I never realized how exciting the backstage of an opera house is during performances. As I sat there waiting on the maestro, there was so much action off-stage as singers were preparing their entrances and the stagehands maintained some semblance of order.
To work so closely with Maestro Maazel and watch him work his magic on the podium is almost indescribable.
Simply put, every gesture creates musical meaning and inspires the musicians to play with definition; it brings the best out of everyone. Even though, on a few occasions, Maestro Maazel showed his impatient side during rehearsals, he does so because he is stubborn and only wants the best from everyone.
For him, music and the arts are what remain constant in his life, and we see it on a daily basis, his life is, indeed, music.
Speaking of rehearsals, when the maestro placed the downbeat for the first rehearsal of Mahler’s epic "Titan’ Symphony" on Saturday, June 16, we musicians ascended to Valhalla. Every single movement and gesture created an awesome meaning in the music.
Though the same can be said with the other rehearsals with the maestro, in The Barber of Seville, Carmen,and Pines of Rome. However, with Mahler, everyone was electrified by the power and intensity of the work and the maestro’s intense musicality through his gestures.
It is at that precise moment that I realized, regardless of what I do, music will always be with me.
I hear how the music is put together by Maestro and hear how his ideas are transmitted throughout the 90 piece ensemble. Every moment that Maazel waves his baton; his musical intent takes over and without any compromises at all.
Back to "The Titan." To watch the rehearsals and the concert of Maestro Maazel conducting Mahler is inspirational not only to my musical senses, but to the human spirit. As he is famed for his Mahler interpretation, many of us grew up with his recordings, seeing him work his magici n rehearsal was priceless for me.
Some of my colleagues and friends at the festival, in both administration and as performers, have talked about the Maazel touch. A close colleague and friend, the current principal cellist at the Castleton Festival Orchestra, Daniel Lelchuk, is also a third-year veteran of the festival. Often he talks of Castleton being a special and unique place to make music. He cites thatmagictouch, as he says, “The Maazel magic is to turn nothing into something, and his vision for the future is very exciting. He brings out the best in every musician, and shares music with everyone involved in the process.”
It's true, even with all the fiasco of running a new summer festival. Working with such a musical giant brings everyone into focus even on the stormiest days.
On a personal level, the most exciting thing so far is watching and observing the great Maestro in concerts and rehearsals. We learn so much by watching him—I certainly did about music and my career path.
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