Lasse Allonen

August 23rd, 2013

Jyvaskyla Sinfonia

In a few days I will return to the Jyvaskyla Sinfonia in Finland, with whom I was Music Director from 1985-1993, to Celebrate their General Manager, Lasse Allonen, extraordinary tenure of 40 Years as their General Manager. It’s not often that one comes across an individual who’s as selfless and dedicated as Lasse but he has made mine and many others lives richer through knowing him.

After a disastrous Guest Conducting Concert in which somehow the repertoire of my contract and that of the advertised program was different I returned home  vowing never to return to Finland, but a week later received a call from Lasse saying the Players of the Orchestra really wanted me to be their next Music Director, after a loud and passionate outburst from me exclaiming that the concert was a disaster Lasse calmly told me that the musicians thought if I can get them through that I can get them though anything!! We agreed to give it a try and I returned twice more before signing on the dotted line – I’m pleased I did, they were happy years.

The rehearsal home of the Jyvaskyla Sinfonia in those days was in the basement of a horse-riding stadium a few kilometers outside of Jyvaskyla. A large room with pillars, so many musicians couldn’t see the conductor or other players, low ceiling providing poor acoustics and then concerts in the University Hall that was very unwelcoming and extremely dry acoustically.

Through Lasse’s expert guidance, and the musicians dedication, it has become one of the leading Regional Orchestras in Finland with recordings (Naxos) and foreign touring part of their annual program. They now have a rehearsal room and administrative offices in the City, but sadly still no Concert Hall, but attract capacity audiences in the City Theater.

He also fostered numerous young Finnish Musicians who have gone onto International careers.

His tenure and dedication will long be remembered, but we wish him a happy and long retirement – he’s earned it. I look forward to seeing his smiley face at the airport in a few weeks and re-acquainting myself with the musicians of the Jyvaskyla Sinfonia. Thankyou Lasse for everything you have done for so many of us.

First Blog!

December 7th, 2011

As this is my first blog on my new website it’s appropriate to talk about ‘My Life in America’. We have been in Connecticut for almost 5 Years now and experienced hurricanes, blizzards, heat-waves and freezing temperatures that make the temperate climate of England seem almost boring - we don’t miss the drizzle at all! Having now got used to US terminology we no longer ask for rawplugs or rubbers anymore and sometimes have been known to slip into the vernacular as it’s preferable to a response of - ‘Oh I love your accent, where are you from?’ or even worse ‘I was in your homeland last year and loved it’. Really what parts did you visit? ‘We stayed in Sydney most of the time - to which I say ‘lovely city’ and leave it at that!

New Haven is an amazing city with Yale University at the heart of it’s activities. You can travel to New York in  90 minutes or Boston in 2 hrs on good public transport, so if you desire a larger city and all they have to offer then a day-trip in either direction is easy. The home of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) is Woolsey Hall - where Elgar was conferred with an honorary Doctorate by the University in 1906, a ceremony that included the NHSO, conducted by its founder Horatio Parker, playing Pomp & Circumstance No 1 and from which the tradition of every American Graduation today is concluded with the trio section - ‘Land of Hope and Glory’. All he great musicians have performed in Woolsey including Mahler conducting the NY Philharmonic, Rubinstein, Heifitz,Perlman Oistrakh ……. I could go on all night.

The riches of Yale from the Center for British Art and Yale Art Galleries to the Beinecke Library, which houses almost 95% of William Walton’s original manuscripts, is a constant and daily source of joy. For the last month I have been working on Walton’s ‘The Bear’ and ‘Facade’ with the Yale School of Music’s Graduate Students, next Semester I’ll be working with two very talented conducting students in preparation for their concert with the Yale Philharmonia.

The music scene is so totally different to Europe with the majority of the funding coming from very generous individuals, very proactive Boards and a massive diversity of musical styles, stemming from the multi-cultural base of the Country. In these fast changing times we (NHSO) have gone through a massive three year transition asking such basic questions as - Who are we, Who do we serve and what is the relevance of the Orchestra within our Community. These tough meetings, involving the Board, Administration, Musicians and Members of the Community, left a lot of ‘blood’ on the table with people passionately advocating their beliefs for the future. It was a process that we needed to go through to arrive at the point that we have which is - An American Orchestra for the 21st Century concentrating  on American Music (but not exclusively) from the past to the present. This is a real challenge, combining the great music  of the past and being relevant to our community through the performance of music of all ethnicities (Black, Latino, White, etc) both from the past and the present. This has entailed me learning a lot of new repertoire from Jazz-influenced to hip-hop - more on that in  a future blog.

For me moving to America has opened new worlds of music and approaches through which I have met many exciting musicians. I’ll try to blog regularly.

Hello world!

May 5th, 2008

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!