East Berliners Visit Southland

Conductor Claus Peter Flor and the (East) Berlin Symphony both will represent a newer generation when they visit the Southland this week--a generation that Americans refer to as “the baby boomers.”

Born in East Germany in 1954, Flor holds both musical director and manager positions in the symphony, his country’s newest major orchestra.

“There are several orchestras in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) with long, revered traditions such as the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, both of which I have conducted, " Flor said from his hotel in New York in a conversation that alternated between English and German. “But the Berlin Symphony is very young--only a year or so older than I.”

Wednesday and Thursday (with a matinee on Friday) at the Music Center, Flor and his orchestra will perform an all-Russian program, including Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with concertmaster Michael Erxleben as soloist. It is part of a 10-week tour with 12 stops in Great Britain, 16 in the United States and 14 in Japan--the first tour for the (East) Berlin Symphony.


“I think it is the longest (symphonic) tour by anyone, anywhere,” Flor said. “This is the fifth time I have toured the United States, but the first time with my orchestra.” All of which makes his job a candidate for the Guinness Book of World Records, he added with a laugh.

Flor, who became the principal conductor of the Berlin Symphony four years ago, has conducted several major orchestras of the world. In fact, he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic last year at the Music Center and three years ago at the Hollywood Bowl. (This week’s Los Angeles performances are being presented by the Philharmonic.)

“There are major orchestras all over the world that I could conduct, but I try to find the interesting ones, instead of the obvious ones,” he continues. “For example, there are many less famous but good orchestras in East Europe, like the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Prague, that I would like to conduct sometime.”

Indeed, with all the touring Flor has developed a cosmopolitan attitude and asks his public not to look at him as a foreigner or ambassador.


“When I tour, I am always asked to play GDR pieces because in some areas of the world, not much is known about our composers,” says Flor. “I’m not afraid of modern pieces and there are marvelous composers in the GDR such as Ernst Hermann Meyer, Gunther Krochan or Siegfried Matthas, but I do not like to be considered as being from any one country or political situation. Music shouldn’t have borders.”

Flor will also conduct the orchestra on Saturday at Orange County Center in Costa Mesa. On the program will be music by Haydn, Shostakovich, Mahler and Sibelius.

BUSY PHILHARMONIC WEEK: In addition to bringing in the (East) Berlin Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic will present the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble Monday and Tuesday at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The New York-based ensemble performs without the use of a conductor. . . . Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Simon Rattle will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 and Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Peter Donohoe as soloist.

DANCE KALEIDOSCOPE II: An eight-person panel will select participants for the revived Dance Kaleidoscope festival at Cal State L.A. in July. Panelists for open auditions beginning in February include Judy Mitoma, a UCLA dance professor; Donald Bradburn, a UC Irvine dance lecturer; Sasha Anawalt, former dance critic of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and Lee Werbel, grants manager for the National/State/County/Partnership. The four other panelists will be announced later. Controversy over groups being invited--without auditioning--plagued former Kaleidoscope festivals, as did complaints of poorly planned programs and uneven quality. Festival organizer Donald Hewitt said that to avoid discrimination, “a very limited number of some of L.A.'s premiere companies” will be invited to perform in the new festival, which “will be very high quality” because the dance community’s proficiency has improved since the first festivals began. Organizing the festival with Hewitt is Linda Kostalik, associate chair of the university’s dance department.

BIRTHDAY PARTIES FOR COMPOSERS: Although his celebratory retrospective concert was Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills, composer and faculty member Marshall Bialosky is 65 today. . . . Ned Rorem will also celebrate his 65th birthday on Friday with a special concert of his vocal chamber music at Juilliard in New York. . . . Elliot Carter will be 80 on Dec. 11.

VOCAL GATHERING: Physicians, speech pathologists, singers, voice teachers and others concerned with professional voice care and training will gather at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for the Pacific next Friday and Saturday. Focusing on a singer’s voice production and clinical care of the voice, the Voice Conference will present lectures, exhibits, panel and forum discussions.

PEOPLE: Guillaume Graffin, premier danseur of the Ballets de Monte Carlo, has joined American Ballet Theater as a principal dancer. . . . Emmanuelle Boisvert, a 25-year-old graduate of the Curtis Institute, has been named concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony, succeeding Gordon Staples. She thus becomes the youngest women ever to lead the string section of a major American orchestra. . . . Robert Page, director of choruses for 17 years and assistant conductor for 10 years of the Cleveland Orchestra, has resigned those positions, effective at the end of the current season, in 1989. . . . Susanne Glass, executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in the Marriner days and recently publicity director for ARTS Inc., has been named executive director of the annual Chamber Music/L.A. Festival.