|President of WPO: William Boughton|
'Letter from America' - William Boughton
Since arriving on these shores last August to take up the position as Music Director with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO), life has been a whirlwind of activity. Not only have the family had to adjust to a new life, - schools, driving tests, insects, climate etc but I have also been laying the foundations for the Orchestra to embrace the 21st Century.
New Haven is probably better known as the home of Yale University, an amazing institution whose riches could never be fully appreciated, from the Rare Book Collection in the Beinecke Library to the Center for British Art and its many 'open' seminars (Tony Blair is lecturing here next academic year). My contact with the University is through their Graduate School of Music which attracts some of the finest young musicians in the world, many of whom become members of the NHSO, providing an exciting mix of ages, and cultures, within the Orchestra.
New Haven is situated on the northern shores of the Long Island Sound - a beautiful stretch of water running the length of Southern Connecticut from New York to Rhode Island and out into the Atlantic. This enclosed seaway provides quite a temperate climate for the region. We have found New England people to be warm and friendly and have recently bought a farmhouse with 5 acres of land, and numerous outbuildings, in Guilford (anybody want a holiday in return for gardening?) - about 12 miles from New Haven. As you know all the places in New England have misspelt English names!
The NHSO is the fourth oldest orchestra in America, after New York, Chicago and Boston and next Season we'll be celebrating its 115th Anniversary Season. The Orchestra's home is in Woolsey Hall - Yale University, where Elgar received his honorary doctorate in 1905 and from where the tradition of performing 'Land of Hope & Glory' at US Graduation Ceremonies was begun. So in treading the boards of the Woolsey stage, and the surrounding streets, I still feel in touch with my favourite English composer. I have just received a Fellowship from Yale University and next Season we'll be performing the 2nd Symphony.
There are many differences between running an Orchestra in the States and the UK - firstly there is hardly any public money so private patronage is vital, requiring a lot of time but you get to know some wonderful people who love music. The other major difference is the multicultural mix of society, where the Symphony Orchestra is a beacon of the white middle-class and therefore of no relevance to either Hispanic, Black or Asian communities - I now spend a great deal of time in schools developing programmes that are inclusive of their cultures- quite a challenge for composers and amateurs! As the Music Director I have to speak at numerous functions and take an active part in the administration of the Orchestra.
I'm writing this letter after three very long days of taking part in Robert de Niro's latest movie 'Everyone's Fine', we started each day at 6 am and finished at 7 pm, a wonderful experience for the whole Orchestra - I had to shave the beard and wear a wig, so if you see it you won't recognise me! The 2008/9 Season will be my first complete Season and we've planned numerous exciting projects, including a performance at Carnegie Hall, there's also quite a bit of English music! For further info please visit www.newhavensymphony.org
I wish the Worcester Philharmonic a successful and enjoyable 08/09 Season and look forward to hearing from them in due course.
15th June 2008