‘We need somebody as dedicated as Slava was’

Loren Kitt is retiring after 46 years as principal clarinet of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D. C. He has played Rachmaninov’s second symphony 54 times, with 15 different conductors.

Loren thinks the orchestra is now ‘the best it has ever been’, but it needs a music director who gives life and soul to the enterprise.

‘[Slava Rostropovich] was really invested in the orchestra.  He wanted it to be good. What I would like to see [in the next music director] is somebody who is as dedicated to the orchestra as Slava was. Someone who would hang their star on the orchestra, so that as good as the orchestra got, they would be better too.’

Loren talks here to his colleague Sue Heineman, Principal Bassoon, on the NSO musicians’ site.

loren kitt

The NSO has just appointed Gianandrea Noseda as music director, succeeding Christoph Eschenbach.

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  • A great musician is exiting the NSO. What a pleasure it was to hear Loren’s mellifluous solos all of my years in the orchestra. I can still see Slava dragging Loren to the front of the orchestra for a solo bow after his small Gershwin encore that the NSO played all over the world. Slava was a huge fan of Loren’s as we all are.

    • Loren Kitt is not all that well known, but is one of America’s finest clarinetists; mastery, class and artistry. I hope he plays a lot of chamber music now.

    • I am at this moment listening to a private recording of a clarinet sonata written by W. Spencer Huffman that Loren Kitt recorded in the 1970’s with Huffman at the piano. Beautiful piece, beautiful playing.

  • So the NSO has at last a new undertaker-it will be interesting to see how well
    he dresses up the corpse before the mourners decide resurrection is beyond
    his abilities and they seek a new undertaker. In the scheme of things , Slava who ???

    • how refreshing to read again your ever insightful and constructive commentary. it must feel so lonely to always be the only one in the room who knows exactly what’s going on.

      (not.)

    • And, right on cue, yet another fatuous, useless comment from SD’s resident cynic. Change the record, it’s broken beyond repair!

      • Its not about being a Cowell ,it’s about a truth that some people cannot abide .
        They are indeed prisoners of the past ,always the past .
        The new conductor as all new conductors will be the new messiah who will lead the
        faithful to new artistic heights until the audience or orchestra tires of the present
        saviour and begins to agitate for a new messiah .Then enters nostalgia after the present
        messiah is given the boot or conveniently drops dead.Name any orchestra and the
        same scenario plays out .And the acts of desperation to fill seats at the wake does amuse if nothing else.Conservatories and colleges are rife with hucksters teaching the new so
        called art of entrepreneurship in hope of salvaging whatever career the so called
        “classical” musician can manage after getting their “artistic diploma” which is worth
        less than good wallpaper .The latest desperate act is the Boston SO. which seemingly is about artistic quality but in all truth is about filling those seats .If the present time keeper
        does not show an audience upsurge, a new messiah will be found .You cannot
        worship at the altar of the dead forever.Slava who ? Morini who ?Souzay who?
        It’s not about being the only one in the room it’s about believing in illusion.

        • Alas, it’s just not like the good old days when the Leipzig town council eagerly grumbled and despaired about getting only their third choice for cantor.

  • [author’s note: this conversation took place before Gianandrea Noseda’s appointment as the NSO’s next music director but we both agreed the orchestra would be lucky to get him.]

  • Milka, are you a professional musician, do you play an instrument and have you tried at least to fart on stage in front of an audience the size of the Kennedy Center, without loosing intestinal control? Who are you, insignificant cockroach, to utter the words “Slava who?” . Slava was a giant musician and you are nothing and nobody. Shut the hell up and crawl back in the woodwork with the other bugs!

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