Symphony director candidate believes great communities have great orchestras - Casper, WY Oil City News
Oil City News Logo

Symphony director candidate believes great communities have great orchestras

Conductor Ron Spigelman poses recently in Casper. Spigelman is the fourth and final candidate for the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra music director opening. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Ron Spigelman wants you to be excited about your orchestra, and he’s keen on telling you why.

“The ultimate goal is for people to be proud of the fact that we have an orchestra, and have a fine orchestra. Because that is a great recruitment tool for a community,” said Spigelman.

The fourth and final candidate for the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra music director job, Spigelman had early on-the-job training at three orchestras in Australia after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Article continues below...

Eventually he tried out for an opening at the Fort Worth Symphony in Texas.

“I came over thinking it would be a first try at an audition,” said Spigelman. “Three hours before I was about to leave the country, they told me I got the job and would I like to come back and live here.”

That was 1994, and since then he’s worked with numerous American orchestras, helping some of them significantly grow into major artistic community forces.

After 10 years with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta in upstate New York, he and his wife moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she plays in the orchestra and he freelances around the country.

Most of his freelance work comes from leading live film concerts, a popular trend where a live orchestra plays the score as the movie plays for an audience.

“I’ve probably done 15 movies now,” said Spigelman, who also freelances for the Tulsa Symphony.

“It seems like I work with all the orchestras I’ve worked with, I keep getting asked back which is a nice thing.”

Spigelman says his vast experience with different orchestras has not only helped him grow artistically, but also as a leader.

“The excitement for me is always when I can see an audience grow, see a city embrace an organization such as an orchestra as being a relevant part of the community, and an important part of cultural and economic growth,” said Spigelman.

“My job is not to conduct, that’s my skill. My job is to touch people with music, and that can be a very broad thing.”

Spigelman sees something he calls remarkable about Casper and its orchestra.

He cites Casper’s vibrant downtown and younger demographic as big advantages, and compares Casper to his time in Springfield, Missouri, where during his tenure the orchestra doubled its size and audience.

“We made it a part of what is going on, not a part from what’s going on,” he said. “That excites me just as much as making the music.”

“The ultimate goal of any arts organization is to become a community service,” he continued.

Spigelman’s program for Saturday night ties in with the WSO’s “Aspects of Love” theme using a reference to a classic James Bond film.

“From Russia With Love” consists entirely of works by Russian composers.

“There’s so much Russian music that’s fiery, passionate and colorful, so I thought what a perfect match to put four Russian masterpieces together,” said Spigelman.

One of the highlights features guest soloist Di Wu on piano for Sergei Rachmoninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”, a wickedly complex piece for both soloist and orchestra.

“She’s phenomenal, she connects with the audience and is a virtuoso, and the sweetest person. People are going to love her,” said Spigelman about Wu, whom he met when she competed in the prestigious Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

Spigelman is optimistic about classical music’s future.

“I see the idea of updating the symphony model from being a stuffy institution where you go to concerts and see people in pretty clothes play,” said Spigelman. “You make it more about the audience, more about the music, and more about the community.”

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra’s final performance of the season is Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. at John F. Welsh Auditorium. Pieces performed will be Glinka’s ‘Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla,’ Rachmoninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini,’ Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overature,’ and Rimsy-Korsakov’s ‘Capriccio Espagnol.’ Tickets can be purchased at the door or by clicking here.