Conductor James Feddeck couldn’t have been happier when Santa Fe Symphony general director Gregory Heltman asked him if he would come to town to guest conduct Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4.
“I’ve never conducted this work before but I feel a strong relationship with Bruckner,” said Feddeck. “Bruckner was an organist and I was a conducting, organ and oboe major at Oberlin Conservatory. His work is probably not as commonly done as it should be. For me, this performance will be really exciting.”
Works by Bruckner and W.A. Mozart are performed during the Santa Fe Symphony’s Jan. 19 concert titled Bruckner 4 “Romantic.”
“With Bruckner, people don’t know what to expect,” Feddeck said. “His music puts you in a different place. It transcends. This symphony has a massive sound and yet it’s slow moving like walking into a big cathedral where you see such detail in an expansive space.”
Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major is one of the composer’s most popular works. It was written in 1874 and revised several times through 1888. The piece premiered in 1881 in Vienna with great success. It’s nickname “Romantic” was used by the composer and refers to the kind of medieval romance depicted in several operas by Richard Wagner.
Feddeck, who recently completed a four-year stint as the assistant conductor of the The Cleveland Orchestra, is one of a number of guest conductors under consideration to be the symphony’s new permanent conductor. He has served as the assistant conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and been a guest conductor for many other musical organizations.
During his short career he has amassed a considerable number of awards. The Aspen Music Festival and School honored him with both the Robert J. Harth Conductor Prize and the Aspen Conducting Prize. He was the unanimous winner of the Sixth Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competition and in 2009 received a career assistance grant from the Solti Foundation. The Solti Foundation honored him again last May when it awarded him with the $25,000 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award.
Feddeck also has performed organ recitals throughout Europe and North America and won competitions sponsored by the American Guild of Organists.
“By the time I graduated from Oberlin, I knew that conducting was going to be my focus,” he explained. “I love the person element of conducting. The conductor isn’t making sound but he’s bringing people together to bring out the best in them. I’m so drawn to that.”
When Feddeck was at the end of his junior year at Oberlin, he put together his own orchestra and organized regular free concerts that happened about once a month. He asked friends to be in it.
“It got to the point where I had 75 to 80 musicians I could call on to perform,” he said. “Oberlin was really supportive and gave me music and a hall. I picked out all the repertoire.”
During his time at Oberlin, Feddeck took a class with the Santa Fe Symphony’s outgoing music director and conductor Steven Smith and played oboe in an Oberlin orchestra that Smith conducted.
Soprano Rachel Jeanne Hall, from Chapel Hill, N.C. is returning to Santa Fe to sing Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate with the Symphony. In 2013, she made her mainstage debut with the Santa Fe Opera in the role of Barbarina in “Le Nozze di Figaro.”