by Kirk Woundy
Conducting Brahms, Chabrier and Schumann, Leif Bjaland opened a string of guest performances from the Colorado Springs Philharmonic's five music-director finalists last weekend. With the final notes now faded, we asked Philharmonic executive director Nathan Newbrough for a statement on Bjaland's performance.
Newbrough says Bjaland, who currently leads the Sarasota (Fla.) Orchestra, worked with the Springs musicians for about 10 hours before the Pikes Peak Center shows. "The product," Newbrough says, "was two hugely satisfying concerts."
"From the first few moments of the concert on Saturday, it was clear that Leif Bjaland has serious musical gifts and an unmistakable way of connecting with the players. His gestures are broad and clear, and designed bring out the emotional content of the music. ...
"It was such a privilege to work with Leif this week and — no matter how the search turns out — we feel we’ve made a new friend and colleague."
Next up among the finalists: Shizuo Kuwahara, music director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta (Ga.), who will conduct Mendelssohn and Bartok the weekend of Nov. 13-14, also at the Pikes Peak Center.