INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra presents another powerful performance in its Classical Series. Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski leads the orchestra in a presentation of Giuseppi Verdi's Requiem. This concert celebrates the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth.
But, the ISO could be celebrating something else with each show this season. Perseverance.
Last year, financial challenges and a dispute with its musicians forced the orchestra to cancel several concerts. In a recent interview, Urbanski told 24-Hour News 8, at that time, he feared some of his plans for the ISO "would be impossible to achieve."
He was in just his second season in Indianapolis. He came here with a sense of "how important it is to have a symphony in the city and how important it is to maintain, to continue our great work." The fall of 2012 raised doubts about the symphony's future.
So, when the orchestra reached its fundraising goal, he knew he couldn't say no to an invitation to extend his time in Indiana. He'll now lead this orchestra through the 2017-2018 season, at least. That's important for planning the concerts he'll lead here as well as coordinating those duties with orchestras around the world. Right now, he is already working on programming for the 2015-2016 season.
"I hope, over the next few years, I can do some pieces I was always dreaming about," Urbanski said.
Urbanski is the Chief Conductor for the symphony orchestra of Trondheim, Norway. He is also now the Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in Japan. That's in addition to what he does in Indianapolis. His work with those and other international groups demonstrates the differences between audiences in the United States and those he encounters elsewhere.
The music he chooses for American shows may be different from what he selects for Japan and Norway.
"Here, it's a little more challenging," he told 24-Hour News 8.
- VIDEO EXTRA | The other side of Urbanski
Urbanski wants to present orchestral favorites with other pieces that are new or unfamiliar. He believes diversity is important. And, overseas, audiences tend to be more open to the unusual. In Norway, for example, he said he can count on sell-outs for shows that might not be so popular here.
But, he said American audiences are "more spontaneous. You can really feel when they like something or when they don't like something."
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
Gary Ginstling is the new man at the ISO, now. He said, coming in as CEO after last season's difficulties, made for an "action-packed" six months.
He's grateful Urbanski accepted the invitation to extend his contract. Ginstling said "that was something that was really important to the organization." He said, as CEO, his role is to "allow [Urbanski] to realize his artistic vision." But, he acknowledges the challenges of programming for American audiences.
"We're always going to be playing the Top 40, if you will, the popular chestnuts that are written for great orchestras and that show off great orchestras." But, he said audiences should be prepared for "unexpected" or "less common works." He sees it as a matter of balance.
"There may very well be some pieces that you just don't care for. The good news is, if you just wait 20 minutes, we'll get to another piece that you probably will love."
Part of being a vibrant arts organization, Ginstling said, is giving people what they want while also challenging audiences and surprising them.
Ginstling also said the orchestra, this year, is "in a better place, financially. So we're healthier as an institution than we were a year ago."
And, under Urbanski's guidance, the musicians are "on a great trajectory."
NEED FOR A CONDUCTOR
Urbanski downplays his role on the concert stage. "I know many orchestras that are able to perform without conductors."
But, conducting is not the appeal of what he does. It's arranging the music. While he might admire certain performances he's heard from other conductors and other orchestras, Urbanski said he's never heard one that he would consider perfect.
"It's very important to think about the whole structure -- from the very first to the last note. During the concert, I'm so happy because then I can really shape it the way I want."
Urbanski would also be happy if the audience couldn't see him during a performance. His entire body becomes an extension of his baton. His facial expressions reflect the emotion of the music.
If he had his way, a screen would block him from the audience. Then, the performance would be judged by the music alone.
Of course, that might accentuate the pressure for perfection.
"I believe that this is an endless process, actually, because you can always improve something." And, he is determined to improve with the ISO.
"This is a really great orchestra," Urbanski said, "and I believe that they can play even better and they could soon compete with the world's great orchestras."
Saturday morning, Wishard Memorial Hospital closed its doors.
As a tribute to veterans, the Indiana American Legion dedicated a new flagpole at the governor's residence on Saturday.
A travel advisory put in place for Wayne County has been extended.