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Baldini a finalist for international conducting prize

Christian Baldini wields the baton at a performance of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Baldini came to UCD in 2009 to replace longtime conductor D. Kern Holoman, who retired. Courtesy photo

By
From page A1 | March 16, 2012 |

Conductor Christian Baldini of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra will fly to Austria next month to conduct the Munich Radio Symphony in a concert in Salzburg on April 29.

Baldini, 33, was one of three conductors picked as a finalist for the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award 2012. (The other two finalists are the 20-year-old English conductor Jamie Phillips, and 26-year-old Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.)

Each of the three finalists will conduct a different orchestra in Salzburg. Afterward, the winner will be selected, and that person will return to Salzburg in August to conduct the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.

This year, the international competition for young conductors received applications from candidates from four continents. It took the jury several days to nominate the three finalists.

“I am very happy to present three extremely talented conductors to the public in April as part of the ‘Award Concert Weekend,’ ” the jury’s chairman, Ingo Metzmacher, declared.

Added Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, president of the board of directors of Nestlé, “Both the high number and outstanding quality of the applications confirm that the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award is an important and meaningful project supporting young artists.”

The goal of this initiative is to give young and highly talented artists a decisive impulse for their further careers, said Alexander Pereira, festival artistic director.

“Therefore, we give the three candidates the chance to present themselves to the public together with international award-winning soloists, in order to increase the attractiveness of the award,” Pereira added.

“I am really honored to have this opportunity,” Baldini told The Enterprise. “This is one of the most important music festivals in the world. This is a very big deal.”

The details of the program that Baldini will conduct in Salzburg have not been announced, but the conductor mentioned that he has been asked to include one of his own compositions as part of the program.

The Munich Radio Orchestra was established in the 1920s and is known for performing music from both the symphonic and the operatic realm; opera is one of Baldini’s interests.

The soloist for Baldini’s program will be pianist Alexej Gorlatch, who was born in Kiev in 1988, and has won medals at several piano competitions in the past few years.

Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies at UC Davis, commended Baldini for receiving this recognition.

“He is a wonderful addition to our faculty, and I’m so pleased both by the quality of his work and by his growing international reputation,” she said.

Added Ralph Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, “All of us who have come to appreciate the work Christian is doing with the UC Davis Symphony —­ ambitious repertoire, thrilling performances ­— are not surprised that he’s been chosen as one of three finalists.

“I know from my time in Munich the orchestra he will be
conducting as well as the space in Salzburg he’ll be performing in, and this is going to be very exciting. I wish I could be there!”

Baldini came to UCD in 2009, following the retirement of longtime UCD Symphony Orchestra conductor D. Kern Holoman, who had led the orchestra for 30 years. Baldini was born in Argentina.

As a conductor, he has received awards in several competitions, including the top prize at the Seoul International Competition for Composers (South Korea, 2005), the Tribune of Music (UNESCO, 2005), the Ossia International Competition (Rochester, N.Y., 2008), the Daegu Chamber Orchestra International Competition (South Korea, 2008), and the Sao Paulo Orchestra International Conducting Competition (Brazil, 2006).

He has been an assistant conductor with the Britten-Pears Orchestra in England. In 2008, he was invited by Leonard Slatkin to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center in New York City, where he also served as a cover conductor.

Baldini also has conducted one of composer Benjamin Britten’s operas at the Aldeburgh Festival in England.

Baldini’s recent engagements include performances with the Israel Contemporary Players in Jerusalem, the Plural Ensemble in Madrid and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

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