Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New WSO music director ready to pick up baton

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THE Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's new music director is clearly impressed with the three-storey-high poster of himself tacked to the outside wall of the Centennial Concert Hall.

"I can hardly wait for my three-year-old son to see this," Alexander Mickelthwate said yesterday after WSO officials showered him with compliments at a brief season-launching press conference.

"Finally, he'll get some respect for his father."

(Memo to Mickelthwate: If you think you've seen disrespect from your son, wait a decade.)

Mickelthwate, 36, had flown in overnight from Los Angeles, where he also serves as associate conductor of the 106-member L.A. Philharmonic.

Looking boyishly rumpled, the German-born musician appeared enthusiastic about taking the reins of the 67-member WSO.

On the job officially for the first time yesterday, Mickelthwate, succeeding the four-year tenure of Russian Maestro Andrey Boreyko, promised to lure international guest artists and to collaborate with local arts groups.

In his second public visit here since his appointment was announced in February, he also introduced his new hand-picked assistant conductor, Rei Hotoda of Chicago.

"The city is very friendly," Hotoda, a 30-something Japanese-born American, said in a interview after official remarks concluded.

"It's accessible and very geared to the arts. I'm looking forward to experiencing that."

Both she and her baton-wielding boss begin their work in earnest this week, which culture minister Eric Robinson has dubbed Manitoba's first-ever Symphony Week.

Mickelthwate is slated to appear in a promotional event today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Assiniboine Park Zoo (where the monkeys tend to cough less than concert-hall patrons).

On Labour Day at 2 p.m. at The Forks, both Mickelthwate and Hotoda will take the podium to conduct the full WSO in an hour-long concert.

The first subscription series is set for Friday and Saturday nights at the concert hall. Mickelthwate will conduct a Masterworks program featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with American soloist Chee-Yun.

The program will be repeated Sept. 10 in a matinee concert in Brandon.

After the news conference yesterday, Mickelthwate said he and his wife, fashion designer Abigail Camp, plan to relocate to Winnipeg next summer with son Jake in tow.

Hotoda is already installed in a home in Wolseley. She has left her husband, computer business owner David Janello, and their six-year-old son, Constantine, behind in the Windy City.

Ú morley.walker@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 2, 2006 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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