I may be reading into this (it's certainly never happened before), but I think this picture sums up the Regime Change at Cape Cod Symphony (it's the cover of the program):
On the right is Royston Nash, Maestro Emeritus. Revered, Poised, Elegant, British. On the left is Jung-Ho Pak, Maestro Apparent. Young, Fresh, Distinctly Unstodgy. Royston seems to be okay with his successor - an endorsement.
Still, I was a little nervous for him. This is New England, where change is frowned upon.
The second he stepped on the podium today he rallied the orchestra in an unexpected round of the National Anthem. He turned around and conducted us for a little bit, since the musicians are professionals and we were the ones needing some help. He sang as he conducted, as if to say, "my name is Jung-Ho Pak, I've been an American all my life."
And then he explained the first piece of music on the program, which had 5 movements - each by a different composer. It was sort of a getting-to-know-you piece, with each movement expressing a bit about him. I immediately pictured him with all his famous composer friends. They are all jumping up saying "ooh, ooh, let ME write a movement!" One movement was about his summer home in Interlochen. So we have a young conductor with an interesting name who is as American as apple pie, has a pocketful of composers at his bidding and a resort residence at which to spend his weekends. He probably speaks eight languages.
I was thinking he should have had a projection behind the orchestra, scrolling the titles of what's currently on his iPod shuffle. You can tell a lot about a person that way. I bet his has a pile of highbrow stuff with some Devo and Fat Boy Slim thrown in.
So within the first half hour, he's completely charmed us. And once he has us where he wants us, we get to hear Mozart's Violin Concerto #3 and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. He actually made my mother cry during the Tchaikovsky. Dang, he's good.
I like the 5th symphony because most of the musicians are playing most of the time. It always throws me when the last couple rows are working on their counted cross-stitch during the movements in which they don't play. I mean, if they're not paying attention, why should I?
And in case you're thinking it's just Cape Cod Symphony, how good could it possibly be?, my mother cut her orchestral teeth on Boston Symphony (although to the best of my knowledge she never actually bit anyone) and she is choosing to subscribe instead to CCSO this year. So there.
We ran into our cellist friends in the parking lot after the concert. They tell us that he is Very Good and Very Exhausting. He does not let them get away with anything. The orchestra was definitely on High Alert - I thought maybe they had had too much coffee. Apparently there will be no needlecrafts.
If you were wondering, it's a hard "J" and Pak rhymes with rock. As in Jung-Ho Pak rocks.