Son to conductor Stenz: "Don't mess it up, Dad"

Sep 29, 2011, 3:37 a.m.


"We're an orchestra that appreciates the moment of the live performance," he said, by way of explaining why the orchestra agreed to one of his innovations -- selling quick-pressed CDs of the night's performance just minutes after the applause has ended, unedited, warts and all.

Some 20,000 have been sold, he said, which amounts to about seven percent of the audience dishing out for what Stenz described as a "picture postcard" of what they just heard.

Stenz, who also has had stints conducting the new-music specialist London Sinfonietta, and the Melbourne Symphony, has come up with other ways to liven up the concert hall and imbue it with a real sense of occasion.

As he did in Melbourne, he takes listeners somewhere they've never been -- and aren't expecting to go -- by throwing in an unannounced "Act 3" piece that is not on the printed program.

"Everybody's equal then, nobody can read the program notes in advance, it's only revealed on the day," he said.

He also champions new music, including the operas of compatriots Hans Werner Henze and Detlev Glanert. When he recreated the historic concert Mahler conducted in 1904 for the 2008 BBC Proms in London, Stenz added the rarely heard 1950s piece "Punkte" by new music avatar Karlheinz Stockhausen, who was to have attended but died a few weeks earlier.

He's proud of the fact that Stockhausen and Stravinsky as well as Mahler all conducted the Gurzenich in a city with almost an embarrassment of musical riches, including the symphony orchestra of broadcaster WDR, the opera company and numerous smaller ensembles.

"Somehow the citizens of Cologne, they have this appreciation of music," Stenz said.

(The Gurzenich Orchestra performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 is broadcast on WDR on Nov 28 at 2315 CET)

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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