Slatkin Conducts at Interlochen

Performance featured U.S. premiere of contrabassoon concerto  

Leonard Slatkin visited campus during the Academy’s second semester to conduct the Interlochen Arts Academy orchestra and work with students.

For members of the orchestra, it was an unforgettable artistic and learning experience to work with the leading conductor and music director at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“Performing the horn solo on Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony under Leonard Slatkin - that is a moment in my life I will cherish forever,” said horn-player, Trevor Nuckols. “But Maestro Slatkin did a lot more than just rehearse with us. He also talked with us about how young artists might find success in the future.”

One of the musical highlights of Slatkin’s visit was the U.S. premiere of Kalevi Aho's contrabassoon concerto. The piece by the renowned Finnish composer featured Lewis Lipnick (IAC 62-64, IAA 62-64, IAC 66-67, IAA Fac 68-70), an Interlochen alumnus and member of the National Symphony Orchestra, as the soloist. Kalevi Aho also travelled to Interlochen for the U.S. premiere of his work. 

“Lewis is an outstanding musician who brings incredible expression to his instrument and Slatkin is such a superb conductor,” said Octavio Más-Arocas, conductor of the Arts Academy orchestra. “It was an outstanding opportunity for our students to work with them - and a treat for our audience to witness.”
Guest artist Harry Shearing also joined the orchestra, playing the Heckelphone part.

The contrabassoon seldom enjoys the spotlight but in recent years composers have expanded the repertoire featuring the instrument. Aho wrote the piece specifically for Lipnick, who premiered the work in 2006 with the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway. Thirty years ago, Lipnick premiered the first concerto ever written for contrabassoon, a piece by composer Gunther Schuller.

All students at the Arts Academy enjoyed a question-and-answer session with Slatkin, Lipnick, Aho and Jeffrey Kimpton. The hour-long session allowed students to pose many questions about performance, the arts and careers. 

“As a conductor and a teacher, it is such a privilege to provide this rare opportunity to high school musicians,” said Más-Arocas. “This is an experience that they will always carry with them.”