InterVIEW: Lawrence Golan

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Lawrence Golan


Name: Lawrence Golan

Age: 43

Occupation/years in field? New Music Director and Conductor of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.  20 years.

Hometown? Chicago

What brought you to Yakima? I came to Yakima to become the new Music Director and Conductor of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.

What’s your favorite Yakima “find” so far? The sun! (It was nowhere to be found when I was here back in January!)

What are your musical influences? My musical influences include my father, who was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 49 years; Leonard Bernstein, who influenced me both in the virtue of versatility and the importance of sharing classical music with the masses; and Beethoven, who revolutionized the world of music.

Nonmusical? My biggest nonmusical influence is my wife, Cecilia. She tells me what to wear and what to eat. Also, because of Ceci, who is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, I learned to speak Spanish (so I could understand what she was yelling at me about!)

Do certain instruments in an orchestra attract certain personality types? Oh yes, but I probably shouldn’t get into that here—I wouldn’t want to offend any of my colleagues!

Is there a particular performance that stands out as your best ever?  What made it so special? The highlight of my violin career was when I performed the Bach Double Violin Concerto with my father, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim. What made it so special? I was performing with my father, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim!

As a conductor, one of my best performances was of Beethoven Symphony No. 9. What made it so special was the fact that every single seat in the auditorium was filled and 300 people were standing in the aisles. That brought an air of excitement and electricity to the performance that was just amazing, both for those of us on stage and for everyone in the audience. I will be working very hard to bring that sort of excitement here to Yakima.

What was your first job?  Worst job? My first job, right out of college, was with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. That was rough. My worst job was as conductor of a youth orchestra that was the second best in town. What was bad wasn’t the fact that they were second best, but that they were content to be second best. I had to work very hard just to establish a mindset of striving to be the best. Even though we never got there, we got a whole lot better trying!

What is currently on your personal playlist? Frankly, I don’t listen to a whole lot of music purely for enjoyment. I am always preparing for upcoming performances. That being said, since I completely love what I do, it is all for enjoyment.

Describe your ideal day in the Valley. Going out and meeting people in the community, telling them about our plans for the new Yakima Symphony, and sensing their excitement about what we’re doing.

Glass half full or half empty? Half full—but then fill it up!

What would you say is your most annoying habit? I had to ask my wife about that one. She said that it’s when I don’t hear the baby crying in the middle of the night. (That could have something to do with the earplugs I wear.)

What is the one thing you regret not learning to do? To fly a plane. That could’ve come in real handy for a conductor.

What can Yakima expect from your performances? First of all, they can expect that most concerts will have a combination of pieces that they know and love and pieces that they’ve never heard before. However, I expect that they will enjoy the new ones just as much as the familiar ones. In addition, the audience can expect for every musician on stage to be playing their heart out and giving everything they have to each and every performance. They can expect my interpretations of the music to be faithful to the intentions of the composers and to be historically informed. Finally, they can expect each performance to be a balanced combination of passion and precision.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When I was 13 years old, I told my father that I wanted to become a professional musician. He told be to forget about it–that I wasn’t talented enough.

If you were remembered for one thing, what would you like it to be? My work ethic. I work tirelessly to make up for my limited talents.

If you could retire tomorrow what would you do? Become a symphony orchestra conductor.

If you could boil down into one sentence your life philosophy, what would it be? Success is not defined by achieving your dream; it is having a dream, and doing everything within your power to realize it.

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