Maestro Gier Celebrates 20 Seasons!
What’s it like to lead one of the boldest orchestras in America? We asked the Maestro to reflect on his time with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.
Q: What were your feelings about coming to Sioux Falls, South Dakota?
I was excited, though I had no idea what to expect. What I discovered was so much bigger and better than you would expect in a city this size. With respect to the orchestra, when I arrived what I found was great potential. This was a healthy organization in terms of staff and Board. What they were looking for was artistic leadership, and I thought, “Well, that I can provide.”
Q: You conduct a lot and have interacted with many orchestras. In your experience what is unique about the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra?
Yo-Yo Ma said, “This orchestra has heart,” and he’s right about that. There’s a very special atmosphere, which I’ve been very careful to protect, to cultivate it as best I can. Every one of our players is not only a fabulous musician, but a great person. I give a lot of credit to my predecessor, Henry Charles Smith who was just a beautiful human being. Everybody loved him. Everybody.
Q: Can you define “artistic excellence?”
Artistic excellence means tapping into the intentions of the composer as deeply as you can. The score itself is our inspiration. People aren’t there to play for me, and I know that. What excites musicians is getting in touch with the intention of the composer, and if I can focus them in on that, the artistic excellence comes.
You do the right thing for the right reason, and you do it the right way. That's my rubric.
Q: What have been some highlights of your tenure?
Supporting our musicians has been one of my greatest joys as Music Director. Some of my best moments have been playing concertos with soloists from the orchestra and seeing them get all the accolades. Keeping people fulfilled and happy is also a highlight. It’s the repertoire that we play. It’s the orchestra getting better. And then the surprises! Our partnership with Native American musicians has opened up a rich and rewarding legacy.
Q: What do you hope the future holds for the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra?
That we continue to record – this orchestra has been ready to record for a long time, and we’re just getting started – and that the contribution we’re making continues to get the attention it deserves. Not that we do it for the attention. You do the right thing for the right reason, and you do it the right way. That’s my rubric. ♦
More about Maestro Gier
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