North State Symphony tries out 3rd conductor candidate

Lindsay Duestch leads the North State Symphony in a beautiful violin solo Saturday night. Photo credit: George Johnston

Walking into Laxson Auditorium Saturday night, notes of classical instruments being fine tuned filled the air and heightened the room’s anticipation for the coming performance and chance to witness a piece of the North State Symphony’s history in the making.

The masterpieces of Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Max Christian Friedrich Bruch and Antonin Leopold Dvorak were brought center stage by the orchestra in a high energy performance that matched the enthusiasm of their third conductor candidate, Scott Seaton.

Currently, the orchestra is in search of a new musical director and Seaton is a finalist along with Christian Baldini, Brian Stone and Peter Jaffe. Seaton made his North State Symphony directorial debut at Laxson as part of a two-concert tryout and seemed to be in his element.

From the moment he took to the rostrum, Seaton appeared confident and just plain excited to be there. At the start of Bartholdy’s “Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21” all the way through the finale Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 7 in D Minor, Op. 70,” he kept his animated beats measured and entry cues clear while never losing momentum during the two-hour concert.

Apart from Seaton, the standout performer was decisively the guest soloist, Lindsay Deutsch. Not to be outshined by her glitzy silver sequined dress, the 28-year-old violinist took to the stage with such a commanding presence that it was difficult to focus on anyone else around her.

Deutsch played her violin with such passion and intensity that it almost appeared to borderline aggression. At one point during Bruch’s “Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 26” she broke a few hairs of her bow after some very dramatic strumming. Though, ever the professional, she managed to quickly remedy the situation and even make a little joke about it afterward to which the audience chuckled.

There was one particular eye-catching moment when Deutsch was at the height of her performance and Seaton was conducting fiercely that the body language of the two almost seemed to sync up—kind of like they were the only two people in the room. There was some definite stage chemistry going on there and it just added to the overall engaging execution of the night.

The symphony’s musicians themselves were equally impressive. Well-rehearsed and mostly uniform, they attentively took direction from Seaton and played every minute with heart and extensive skill. Every note echoed beautifully in the auditorium.

However, there was one brief instance that put a ripple in the music’s trance-like effect when a bassist in the back row inexplicably yawned—without covering his mouth—during Deutsch’s solo, but names won’t be named.

While the music was more than worth the time, Seaton proved to be an asset to the symphony’s evening at Laxson and both the musicians and audience noticed—calling him back to the stage three times to endure a lengthy standing ovation. If chosen as musical director, he’s not likely to disappoint.

Now, if Seaton and Deutsch were to both become permanent fixtures with the North State Symphony there would no doubt be some white hot music making, but that will probably forever remain a classical fantasy.

Conductor Scott Seaton Photo credit: George Johnston

Amanda Rhine can be reached at [email protected] or @am_rhine on Twitter.