Lexington Philharmonic music director George Zack soaks in a roaring ovation during his third curtain call after conducting his final performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Below: Zack and pre-show interrogator Joe Tackett. Copyrighted photo by Rich Copley | LexGo.
Don't miss our audio slide show of Zack and the Singers.
Read Loren Tice's review of Friday's Philharmonic concert.
Notes from an emotional and exciting night in the Singletary Center:
~ Conducting his next to last concert as music director of the Lexington Philharmonic and his last with longtime collaborators the Lexington Singers, George Zack worked hard to main his composure during the evening. Speaking both at a reception before the concert to announce the final slate of candidates to succeed him and in remarks to the pre-show and concert audience, Zack choked up, particularly when talking about his wife Kerry.
At the reception, he credited her as being the key to his success and said, "every day has been a honeymoon."
Asked by pre-show audience member Dennis Potts what his favorite piece to conduct was, he replied, "It would be the program that thrills my wife. Anytime I conduct a slow movement, I'm singing to her."
When he took the stage for the concert, Zack was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation. When it had quieted down, he demurely asked, "Have we played the concert, yet?" Zack than deferred to the orchestra saying, "We all have to work together, or we make no music," and attributed the orchestra's success to the community.
This is not to say there weren't moments of joy and levity. Zack said he chose the evening's program, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, "Choral" because they were happy joyful pieces, and he wanted to go out on an up note.
Zack also sat down to a pre-show chat with Philharmonic bassist and librarian Joe Tackett, who has been interviewing all of the music director candidates this season in pre-show chats. Tackett has been asking candidates how many bass concertos they would program. Last night, he called Zack on the carpet for having programed zero bass concertos in his 37-years with the Phil. Zack countered that he had indeed programmed a bass concerto on a youth orchestra tour of Europe, "and they didn't like it much there, either." At that point, the conversation seemed in danger of veering into that, "we're big in Denmark," claim you hear from bands that are unknown in the U.S. Tackett had fun, but also seemed moved to have Zack in the same spot he had been hosting guests in over five concerts this year.
~ For around 100 folks, the evening started with a reception in the University of Kentucky Art Museum featuring an announcement of the five candidates that will join this year's quintet of to form the field of 10 hopefuls to succeed Zack.
The big news was that Mr. January, Morihiko Nakahara, was named as the new music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic in Columbia this week. That does not preclude Nakahara from going for the Lexington post, as many conductors have more than one orchestra under their direction. But it does make him, before he was even officially announced to Lexington, the first LexPhil candidate to be named to another music director post. A number of this and next season's candidates are pursuing other posts around the nation.
In his announcement, Philharmonic board president Larry C. Deener dropped a few fun tidbits about the candidates like . . .
Scott Terrell is an avid golfer with a single-digit handicap.
Jeffrey Pollock is a cooking enthusiast who also savors good wine.
Alastair Willis is a big cyclist -- not motocyclist, Deener noted. Hear that, Tom Eblen?
Mei-Ann Chen's loves the animated duo Wallace & Gromit.
Zack has one concert left, Sept. 12, and then it's full steam ahead to the announcement of the new music director in April.