By T. STEPHEN WAGER
COOPERSTOWN – The recent, and almost sudden, appearance of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra on the scene in Cooperstown certainly has garnered salvos from every area. Needless to say, Maestro Żołtówski’s rich international background has brought about an extraordinary fabric of different styles and the ease in which those styles are communicated via conducting.
When asked who provided him with the greatest influence, without any hesitation, Maestro Żołtówski replied, “Krzysztof Penderecki. When I met him for the first time, I must say I was in awe of this man. After all, by that time he was already a living legend. On one occasion, I can hear him as if it were yesterday, he told me to never let go of my artistic vision and never give up!”
In a very short amount of time, a great cooperation then developed between the two of them based on mutual admiration and respect.
“I started conducting and recording his works with the Radom Chamber Orchestra in Poland and several compact discs were the result. I, in turn, invited him to adjudicate a competition for composers I helped found. This started a regular, cyclic feature of Polish musical life: Krzysztof Penderecki International Composers’ Competition ARBORETUM,” Maestro Żołtówski said.
His tenure at the helm of the Cyprus State Orchestra was an important part of forming who he is now.
“That was my first professional appointment as a music director. I remember how the first months felt like taking a deep dive into the rich and ancient traditions of that beautiful place. In less than three months after my inauguration, we toured Europe visiting London, Paris, Copenhagen and Athens. In Cyprus I met and worked with several luminaries of the European music stage: Dimitris Sgouros, Thomas Duis, Rudolf Kehrer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, et al. Cooperation with the Steinway Club resulted in many pioneering musical adventures and CD recordings,” he said.
“What we accomplished in Poland and Cyprus is what we hope to accomplish here in Cooperstown with Fenimore Chamber Orchestra,” he said. The plan is to grow audiences and build proper cooperation with other arts organizations in the area.
“Building those ties and cultivating artistic and educational collaboration inevitably produces an effect of synergy. National and international tours were a side result of that effect. What really counted was watching how the whole nation [Cyprus] and region [Radom, Poland] came to identify with an artistic brand of their orchestras. There is no reason this cannot happen also here in Cooperstown,” Maestro Żołtówski said.
The next concert of Fenimore Chamber Orchestra, “Festive Strings,” will be on December 3, featuring the string section of FCO. For tickets, visit fenimoreco.org.