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DSSO conductor candidate chose Saturday's program for its classical/modern contrast

Dirk Meyer

The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's "Five Batons" season continues Saturday with the second conductor candidate, Dirk Meyer.

Meyer is originally from Germany and has been involved with the Sarasota (Fla.) Orchestra and its youth program. He recently published the book "Chamber Orchestra and Ensemble Repertoire."

Each of the five candidates has designed a classical program, and they will conduct during a pops concert as the DSSO's looks to fill the position held by Markand Thakar, who is leaving after the 2012-13 season. Conductor candidate Rei Hotoda opened the season in mid-September.

The finalists will be answering five questions submitted by the News Tribune before the classical concerts to give audiences a taste of their style.

Name: Dirk Meyer

Current position: Associate conductor of the Sarasota Orchestra

Education: He holds a doctor of musical arts and master's degrees in orchestral conducting from Michigan State University.

Q: Why did you select this program?

A: I like the contrast in this program. It features music that represents the best of two very different worlds: the classical world and the modern world.

"The Marriage of Figaro" is full of wit, humor and plain fun. It's one of my favorite Mozart operas.

The scale of Beethoven's Violin Concerto goes beyond anything that a concerto at that time had ever presented. It is a giant of the repertoire that demands a superb soloist of great stature. Who better to fill these shoes than the DSSO's own concertmistress Erin Aldridge?

Finally we have Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5. Here is a work that not only marks one of the pinnacles of modern symphonic music, but Prokofiev himself proclaimed that his symphony captures the "greatness of the human spirit."

When I look at classical concerts I am mostly interested in two things: The music should express a wide variety of human emotions and the compositions performed should be of the highest quality.

As you can imagine, I'm thrilled with our program.

Q: Do you have a preconcert ritual?

A: I'm not a superstitious person, but I do like to arrive at the hall early so that I have plenty of time to change and stretch my muscles. Conducting is very physical, so I actually do stretch before I go on.

Once I feel ready to go I take a seat in my room, close my eyes and go through the opening measures one last time.

Q: What is something a conductor should never do?

A: Probably the one thing that is the biggest no-no in my book is hitting the music stand with the baton -- especially if the conductor tries to use this "sound effect" to emulate a metronome ... Ouch!

Q: Is your style more Arturo Toscanini or Seiji Ozawa?

A: My approach to music and conducting is closer to Seiji Ozawa's style. I like to shape the music more freely and less strictly. But, talking about learning from the great masters: I would have to say that I learned the most from watching Leonard Bernstein.

Q: What music is in heavy rotation in your iPod?

A: Lots of Frank Sinatra ("Sinatra at the Sands" is always up high in the "Top 25 Most Played"), Amy Winehouse and Death Cab for Cutie.