About rlbaldwin2

Robert Baldwin is Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Utah and Music Director for the Salt Lake Symphony. He also serves as the conductor of UK Opera Theatre’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing, in Lexington, Kentucky. Previously, he has held conducting positions at the University of Kentucky, Lexington Philharmonic, New American Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony and Northern Arizona University Orchestras. Guest appearances include the Eutin Music Festival in Germany, the Lafayette Symphony, Kuopio Academy of Music in Finland, the 2006 Mozart Orchestra Festival in Austria, the Hermitage Camerata Symphony in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and numerous festivals and All-State orchestras in the U.S.. He makes his home in Salt Lake City, Utah where, in his spare time, he enjoys reading, hiking, fishing and spending time with his family (one wife, two kids, two dogs, and a cat).

Poulenc’s 20th Century Opera Masterwork

 

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It’s opera week at the University of Utah and the entire school is mobilizing for this production of Poulenc’s powerful opera, Dialogues des Carmelites. I’ll be conducting from the pit with the Utah Philharmonia for this production by the University of Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble. Although this is my second go-round with the opera, I find it just as engaging as my first foray. Certainly, it promises to be a memorable evening.

The graduate opera literature class taught by my colleague Elizabeth T. Craft has put a fabulous website together covering the background, historical context and performance history of this important opera. Click here to check out their excellent work and familiarize yourself with the opera: https://music.utah.edu/mckay-music-library/dialogues/index.php?fbclid=IwAR0z3-qHOfaq_CMENfyyOSXIxt4bTOw80_T4nkYOsE9NXTfNFeGxv4ccFCc

The production is coming up Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20 at Kingsbury Hall. Get your tickets here: https://tickets.utah.edu/events/dialogues-des-carmelites-performed-by-university-lyric-opera-ensemble/

 

 

 

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Salt Lake Symphony Season Release

Here’s the 44th Season for the Salt Lake Symphony, year 15 for me as Music Director. Time flies when you’re having fun.

 

Salt Lake Symphony, 2019-2020 ~ The 44th Season. Robert Baldwin, Music Director

September 28, 2019. Fantastique! 44th Season Opener

  • César Franck: Le Chausseur maudit
  • Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

November 9, 2019. New Horizons. Julie Wright-Costa, soprano. World Premiere piece by John Costa, plus HS Side-by-Side performance.

  • Alberto Ginastera: Estancia Suite, op. 8a (with side-by-side High School musicians)
  • John Costa: World Premiere Piece for Soprano and Orchestra
  • Aaron Copland: Symphony No. 3

December 5, 6 and 7, 2019: Amahl and Christmas Carol at the Grand Theatre.

Collaboration with the Grand Theater and University of Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble

(Robert Breault, Director of U Opera; Nick Harker and Michael Leavitt, conductors)

  • Giancarlo Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors
  • Michael Leavitt: A Christmas Carol

December 14, 2019: Let There Be Peace: Holiday Concert with Utah Voices

Robert Baldwin and Kelly DeHaan, conductors

  • Dan Forrest: “Arise, Shine!”
  • Other Holiday Favorites TBA

January 11, 2020 Family Concert: The Thrill of Music!

Robert Baldwin and Nick Harker, conductors. Justine Sheedy, choreographer. Dancers from the UofU School of Dance

  • Richard Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries
  • James Newton-Howard: Selections from “King Kong”
  • Russell Peck: The Thrill of the Orchestra
  • Hector Berlioz: March to the Scaffold and Dies Irae from Symphonie Fantastique
  • Johann Strauss, Sr.: Radetzky March
  • John Williams: Music from “Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens”

January 25, 2020 Summer Arts Piano Competition Winners Concert

Jinhyoun Baek, Guest Conductor

  • Program TBD from competition winners

February 8, 2020: Annual Vienna Ball

March 14, 2020. Jie Yuan, piano; Robert Baldwin and Nick Harker, conductors

  • Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1 “Classical Symphony”
  • Paul Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Weber
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”

April 25, 2020. Romantic Favorites. Bo Wu, Guest Conductor

  • Franz Schubert: Overture to “Die Zauberharfe“ (Rosamunde)
  • Bedrich Smetana: The Moldau from “Ma Vlast”
  • Peter Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, op. 36\

May 16. 2020 Nights in Jazz: with Kris Johnson, trumpet, and his combo

  • George Gershwin: An American in Paris
  • Orchestral selections with Kris Johnson and his jazz quartet
  • Duke Ellington: Black, Brown, and Beige Suite

June 25, 2020. Spotlight Performance for the Utah Arts Festival.

  • Program: All-American Spotlight

 

For ticket and other information, please visit http://www.saltlakesymphony.org/

 

 

A Conductor’s Adventures in China

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The following is a guest blog post recently published by the University of Utah College of Fine Arts, documenting my recent trip to China to conduct and teach.  Clicking the “Read more” link will redirect to the full article.

I was fortunate to make my second trip to China recently. For this trip, I had been invited to conduct a New Year’s Concert at Wuhan University where recent University of Utah School of Music DMA graduate, Bo Wu has just started a new position as Director of Orchestras. Wuhan University is a major University in China, academically quite similar to the University of Utah. It’s a beautiful campus and a top ten university in China, set on a mountainside between the East Lake and the Yangtze River. It is also in the middle of a bustling metropolis of 10.6 million people.

Read more

From the Shore to the Depths

Benjamin Britten scares me. Don’t misunderstand, I’m sure he was a pleasant chap. And yes, he’s dead, so I suppose if he showed up in my living room today it would be a bit frightening. More to the point, it’s his music that gives me pause, makes me question reality. Britten’s music also entices, begging me to enter…

What I find in his music is sometimes so individual, so personal, that I am reticent to look deeply at first. It’s like entering another’s thoughts, someone who understands life much differently than I do. It forces me to ask, “Am I supposed to be here?” Britten’s art is a dark tunnel, where what awaits us is contradictory, containing both certainty and doubt; mystery and truth; beauty and terror.

He’s the Kafka of 20th Century music, in my opinion. And like that great writer, once you allow yourself to be open to his message, things will happen. The rusty cogs turn revealing glimpses of mist-enshrouding things you may or may not want to see. Wondrous things. Terrifying things. Meaningful things. But look you must. This is the musical star stuff that can be perspective-changing.

But first you have to dive in and wrestle with the notes, for revelation does not come without some major effort.

“As Gregor awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an eighth note…” (not Kafka, but still Kafka-like)

This is a rather long-winded way of saying that I’m really looking forward to conducting Britten’s Four Sea Interludes with SLS for the March 16th concert. It’ll be my first trip with this trippy music. Also on the program: Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony and Peter Boyer’s Festivities. Nature abounds, but the program defines human nature as well. Hope you can join us!

http://saltlakesymphony.org/welcome.php

Copyright 2019. Robert Baldwin

SLS March poster

The Sands of Time: Music from the Middle East in Concert with the Utah Philharmonia

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The Stars Align.

There’s a very exciting concert ahead. I’ve been asked: Just how did this concert ever come to exist? Here’s the story:

Back in 2010, I received an unsolicited visit from Monika Jalili, a singer of Iranian/Persian music about having the School of Music donate space for a concert. Instead of a single act of charity, it was apparent that there was an opportunity to do something more. As Monika and I talked, it became clear that instead of a small ensemble concert, a more exciting collaboration might take place with orchestra. Those discussions led to a performance in 2013 with the Salt Lake Symphony of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade with Monika and her ensemble filling in between movements with traditional and popular music from the Middle East. We only had one music chart for orchestra to play along with her group back then, but even still, it was a great success. We all left the performance knowing that a future collaboration was possible sometime in the future.

Fast forward to this year, and thanks to Monika’s work getting the UofU Middle East Center onboard, and my securing a teaching grant, this concert is now a reality. The University of Utah Philharmonia will present this concert of music from the Middle East, by composers with Middle Eastern connections. (The only exception being Respighi’s Belkis: Queen of Sheba Suite, which has nonetheless has a historical and sonic roots firmly rooted there). Other music on the program includes a piece by Shalan Alhamwy, a Syrian refugee, titled Two Images from Aleppo (Thanks to my former student Mindi Davis-Loewen for introducing me to Shalan and his music); Mohammed Fairouz’s Pax Universalis; and six selections with Monika and her most versatile ensemble, Megan Gould (violin), Zeb Gould (guitar), and Shane Shanahan (percussion – and a musician with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble). Arrangements of those pieces are by Megan Gould and Jamshied Sharifi (who recently won a Tony for his orchestrations for the musical, The Band’s Visit).

Monika publicity photo

But there is MORE. We’ve just learned that we will have members of several refugee communities in attendance at the concert. There will be a major video shoot as well. We are getting attention from places far and wide for our program. That is gratifying, to say the least.

This is a concert that is in the true spirit of collaboration: performing musicians (soloists and orchestra), support staff, outside organizations, administrative personnel, and the composers and arrangers. Now all that is left to ask, is that you join us for this special performance. It’s on December 6, smack in the middle of the “holiday” season. There is no White Christmas, Silent Night, or Nutcracker on the program, but there will be a great deal of the goodwill that makes this time of year special for people from around the globe. I am happy that we can reach out in this way with this unique and moving concert. Hope to see you there. If you cannot make it. Please join us online at: https://music.utah.edu/libby-live/index.php

 

 

Campus Locations Libby Gardner Concert Hall
Cost General Admission: $12.50, Arts Pass event: Free for U of U students with UCard, Non-U of U Students: $6.50, Faculty, Staff, Seniors: $6.50
Ticket URL tickets.utah.edu…
Contact Name School of Music
Contact Phone 801-581-6762
Contact Email events@music.utah.edu
Campus Wide Event Yes
Link music.utah.edu

The Utah Philharmonia presents “The Sands of Time: Journey Through the Middle East” with special guests, Monika Jalili and ensemble: Shane Shanahan, Megan Gould, and Zeb Gould. Works to be performed include Ottorino Respighi’s “Belkis Queen of Sheba Suite,” Shalan Alhamwy’s “Two Images from Aleppo”, and Mohammed Fairouz’s “Pax Universalis.” Monika Jalili and ensemble will also perform Persian songs accompanied by the Utah Philharmonic. This event is in partnership with the University of Utah Middle East Center.

 

Keep Going

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I had an interesting discussion with a group of students recently. The basic topic of discussion was this: “How long do you wait to ‘make it in the field’ before throwing in the towel? And similarly, how do you know when you’ve made it?”

To answer the question I relayed a true conversation I had with TV and film composer Mike Post in 1985 at a summer festival. When asked essentially the same question, he replied: “If it means that much to you, you must work hard, make contacts. and wait long as it takes. If you need to eat peanut butter sandwiches for years, you must do so if working in this field means that much to you.”
Sage advice. (I ate a lot of PBJ back in the day, BTW).
Another wise tidbit comes from the great cellist Janos Starker, who I had the privilege to hear speak in 2000: “Remember, there are many needs for musicians and teachers in every place in America. Do not delude yourself into thinking that you only are a success in this field if you work in New York, Boston, or Chicago.”
More sage advice. (I’ve worked in many places, none of which are the fabled places of success).
In truth, the students were shocked to learn that I’ve been rejected for most job applications I’ve submitted, (probably over a hundred, actually). Yet I’m still happily engaged in a career in the arts. In my relatively recent side-pursuit of writing, I’ve received more rejections than acceptances by a 3:1 margin. Yet I’ve still had a small number or works published, with increasing frequency. (If not in major literary journals, or “apex publications,”  at least they HAVE been published).

The importance of what we do is in the doing of it, or as the great writer Ursula Le Guin writes:

“Practice is an interesting word. We think of practicing as beginner’s stuff, playing scales, basic exercises. But the practice of an art is the doing of that art—it is the art.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

What we should learn from all our practice is that it is not about “perfection,” as the saying goes, but about perseverance. We must continue to do what we do, and we will likely learn and grow as much, if not more, from our mistakes, rejections, and less-than-perfect performances.

So, the lesson I’ve imparted, and learned myself, is basically this:

Keep Going.
If you build it, they will come…eventually
And,
We are all on a unique path that follows its own timeline. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Keep Going.
Hit the scores, practice the technique, dig deeper into your soul than ever before. Do your art every day you possibly can.
Network without the expectation of immediate return, say YES to opportunities; say NO to being used.
Keep Going

P.S. I also told the student who said he needed to make $200K per year right out of college in order to support his family that a career in the arts may not be the best choice for him, if that was truly his priority. Sorry, there are also deal breakers.

 

Copyright 2018, Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat

Image source: https://weheartit.com/entry/231170553

 

The Spice and a Slice of Utah Life

Utah Life cover

I am happy to report that my poem, Spice of Life was featured in the July-August – Issue 3 of Utah Life magazine. This is a fantastic new publication that is worthy of a subscription if you like reading about Utah out-of-doors activities, and history in good essays, articles and poetry. Issue 3 is on newsstands now. Here’s the link to the magazine.

https://utahlifemag.com/

Spice of Life-Utah Life

 

Copyright, 2018. Robert Baldwin, Before the Downbeat

Images used with permission from the editors at Utah Life magazine.