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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Sad for Denver

the lack of support shown by several institutions in the city, be they orchestras, churches, or universities, has allowed two incredibly fine and gifted musicians to leave Denver and go elsewhere for support. And when I say support, I do not mean just financial support. I am also speaking of artistic support and appreciation for their artistry. Dr. Horst Buchholz, and his wife, Dr. MeeAe Nam, contributed greatly to the musical heritage of Denver. That is no exaggeration. Dr. Buchholz is a world class conductor who founded the Berlin Chamber Orchestra when he was twenty-one, shortly after his premiere as solo organist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also assistant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Choir. He had his debut with the Salzburg International Summer Festival in the year 2000 and has returned there to conduct every summer. All of this while touring the world as a concert organist.

Part of his contribution to the city of Denver was really to the University of Denver. Under his close guidance and supervision, he was responsible to DU for one of the finest organs in the United States: known as the Coors Organ. It will be a long time, I think, before DU will find any faculty member that matches his artistic devotion and intellectual curiosity.

In addition, he led the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra to a new level that is unparalleled among the community orchestras in the state. In this position he also helped many soloists along with their careers. As the conductor of this orchestra, he worked for almost no money at all when compared to other conducting positions. He did it because of his love for music and his love for conducting. One must realize that a conductor's instrument is the entire orchestra. It is the same as having one instrument and performing concerts on that. He demanded much from the orchestra, but sometimes the orchestra did not seem to understand his love for music and his passion for correctness. I would say that also applies to the Cathedral For The Immaculate Conception. He gave astoundingly fine performances there as Canon of Music and organist. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that his efforts there were underappreciated. He should have had their unqualified support.

Dr. Buchholz' wife, Dr. MeeAe Nam, is certainly one of the finest sopranos that I have heard, and there is no doubt that she is Horst's musical equal. They often performed together with Horst as conductor or as organist. In addition, Dr. Nam has performed all over the world in operas, lied recitals, and soloist with orchestras performing oratorios and masses. She possesses a vocal technique that is well nigh perfect, and it will allow her to sing for many, many years. She is gifted with an amazing sense of pitch and I certainly never heard her sing when she was having an "off night." She simply never had an off night. She imbued all of her performances with a sense of drama that often brought laughter or tears from the audience.

She was Artist in Residence and Chairman of the Voice Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her level and quality of teaching is unsurpassed and her students held her in very high regard.

In addition to her worldwide performance activities, she also devoted a considerable amount of time to scholarly activity and research. Her book, "Living With a Healthy Mind and Voice" will be published in 2010. She is also a very well known adjudicator of vocal competitions and a well-known and respected vocal clinician.

But, both Buchholz and Nam are gone. Dr. Nam is now on the voice faculty at Eastern Michigan University and Dr. Buchholz is just down the road in Cleveland as Canon of Music at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and conductor of the chamber orchestra there. The institutions that they were involved with here in Denver could not afford to keep them. But before any of you readers accost me and state the obvious that these are difficult financial times, please realize that these institutions should have tried a little harder to raise the money to keep these two individuals. It was possible. If they thought it was impossible, they need to realize that it is kind of fun to do the impossible. However, if, as I suspect, the institutions did not feel the artistic necessity to make more of an effort to keep them here, then I can only say Godspeed to Buchholz and Nam. I know that no matter where they are, they will receive genuine appreciation and have a profound impact upon the musical community in which they reside. Farewell.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Wow... (sigh)

He is among the few conductors I've sung under (which include Ozawa, the late Calvin Simmons, and Raymond Harvey) that had the singular and invaluable treasure of keeping any and all rehearsals focused, correcting without diminution or one iota of negativity, infuse humor appropriate to the tenor of any given moment, etc., etc., etc.
A major loss to a major American metropolis; and all, one supposes, is that Denver is fixated upon the imminent loss of a malcontent wide receiver after their punk ex-quarterback managed to extricate himself from his Cresus-level contract.
God bless you, Dr. and Mrs. Buchholz