American Tim Weiss is already making good progress with learning Norwegian and is ready for his new role in the Arctic Philharmonic. He brought specific plans with him across the Atlantic about how to unify the orchestra into one common artistic vision.
The American conductor and musical director Tim Weiss started his new role as Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta in Bodø on 1 August. Some regular concertgoers may already be familiar with Weiss from his previous concerts with the Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta: Spectacular Spectral (2015), Thread! (2016) and Great American Songbook (2017). Those who attended these concerts would have experienced a person who is enthusiastic and passionate, not only in the way he leads musicians but also the considerate and informative way he treats his audiences. Tim uses time to inform and explain about the music the orchestra is playing, turning the concerts into learning experiences for the audiences. His ability as a committed educator also benefits students at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, USA, where he is engaged as a knowledgeable and sought-after lecturer.
Tim took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions:
- What has it been like to come to Norway and work with the musicians in the Arctic Philharmonic? Have you found a ‘good tone’?
- I absolutely love working with the musicians here in Bodø. Not only are they all fantastic musicians, but they are also wonderful to work with. I really have a terrific time with them both musically and personally. I look forward to every visit.
- Why is it so important for an orchestra to have a strong artistic director, and how do you plan to take on this role?
- This is an interesting question especially with a Sinfonietta which lies someplace between true chamber music when there isn’t a conductor and full orchestra in which the conductor must take more direct leadership. The smaller size of the sinfonietta allows for a rehearsal process that can be more collaborative. So, my approach is to have a strong artistic vision for how I want to interpret a piece but allow the individual expression and musicianship of each individual.
- How was your first meeting with the Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta?
- The first project was a spectral program with music French, English and American spectral composers. Spectral music is a fascinating approach to composition and has resulted in so many interesting new directions and pieces. This concert was particularly special for me because we premiered a new piece that was composed for the Sinfonietta by a close friend of mine.
- The best results are when we all have one common artistic vision and it’s my role to unify the ensemble together towards that vision.
- Are there any Norwegian composers you are particularly fond of?
- There are so many, and so many more I want to become familiar with. I especially like the music of Arne Nordheim, Lasse Thoresen, Rolf Wallin and Henrik Hellstenius. They are all so different, but in some special ways connected to one another.
- Are you particularly interested in any other art forms?
- I love the visual arts and dance. I really love spending an afternoon at a museum.
- Can you tell us a little about your background and what else you do besides conducting?
- Of course, I love spending time with my family. That’s very important to me. My wife and I love to hike and I really enjoy cycling. I hope I can eventually do some cycling in Norway! Anything done outside is wonderful.
· He is engaged as a Lecturer and Director of the Division of Contemporary Music at the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio, USA.
· He has directed the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble for the past 23 years.
· His repertoire in contemporary music is vast and fearless and he has earned critical acclaim for his performances and bold programming.
· He is the recipient of the Adventurous Programming Award from the League of American Orchestras.
· His recent directing/conducting engagements include orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Orchestra 2001 in Philadelphia, the Eastman Broadband Ensemble, the
BBC Scottish Symphony; the Britten Sinfonia in London and the Melbourne Symphony in Australia.
· He is a graduate of the Royal Music Conservatory in Brussels, Northwestern University and University of Michigan (both in USA).
- Can you tell us something about Tim that not everyone is aware of?
- Hmmmm, good question. I was born in Papua New Guinea when my parents were working as missionaries. When they finally returned to the United States, my mother was an organist and choir director in a Lutheran church for many years. That is where my first musical experiences come from. As a teenager, I lived in San Diego, California and loved going to the beach to body surf. In fact, I confess I skipped school too often so I could go to the beach.
The university’s website enables students to provide assessments of their professors. Former students of Tim Weiss have described him as "...a brilliant musician and a fun and crazy type. He manages to get music that seemingly sounds impossible to be much easier to understand."
Others praise him for his clarity:
"His conductorship is clear, precise and appropriate for the music ".
Another student concludes that Tim is "...an extremely good conductor, mentor og person."
The Arctic Philharmonic looks forwards to exciting years with Tim Weiss – both for our musicians and not least our audiences!
You can meet Tim at two concerts in Bodø this November.