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Conductor Jan Pellant makes official debut with Coeur d’Alene Symphony

October 5, 2018

Two years after Coeur d’Alene Symphony artistic director and conductor David Demand announced his resignation after 15 years with the orchestra, there’s a new face in town.

That face belongs to Jan Pellant.

Pellant, a native of the Czech Republic, has been music director of the Lexington Chamber Orchestra in Kentucky since 2015.

He studied at the Prague Academy of the Performing Arts, has earned degrees from the Prague Conservatory and Carnegie Mellon University, and is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in orchestra conducting at the University of Kentucky.

He has conducted with a number of symphonies including the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Prague Symphony Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic and has also led concert tours in Romania, China and France.

Symphony supporters got a first look at Pellant during the 40th Anniversary Celebration in August, but Pellant will make his official debut with the symphony this weekend when he conducts “Nineteenth Century Grandeur.”

“Nineteenth Century Grandeur” features guest soloist Felicity James on violin.

Pellant recently stopped by the Spokesman-Review to talk about his first impression of Coeur d’Alene and his hopes for the future of the symphony.

Q. What was your first introduction to the Coeur d’Alene Symphony?

A. I’ll be honest. I didn’t know that Coeur d’Alene exists, completely. When I applied for this position, that was mainly the reason how I learned about this beautiful city, and eventually when I was physically here in May, I was just so glad to be here. I was like “No matter what will happen now, if I will be here or not, I just need to make sure I’ve gotten all the friends, all the people and make some nice connections eventually”…

The final round took eventually four weeks so being almost four weeks in Coeur d’Alene might give a big chance to really see what was going on. I just remembered when I came to this area, I found, maybe it’s because I haven’t seen so many things from this great country, but I felt like in some way, this is a little similar to my homeland, Czech Republic, having at least from the landscapes and the way how people are so welcoming. It’s a nice place.

Q. What was the audition like?

A. I honestly wasn’t nervous and I think it’s strange because one should be nervous. It means you are really taking things seriously and, of course, I took things seriously very much. I just was so glad I had all this opportunity at every round to say what are my dreams and there was always someone who would listen. Always excited for all the audition process and doing my best I ever can and grateful for the opportunity that I can share my dreams with people. So I wasn’t really nervous.

Q. What can we expect to hear this weekend?

A. It’s titled as the “Nineteenth Century Grandeur.” Those are composers from Russia and from Germany. Their names are Alexander Borodin and Alexander Glazunov. The second half will consist of German composer Johannes Brahms. All these names are very much making big stories in the classical music of the 19th century. The reason why we put together this program is to really make all the community in Coeur d’Alene and around understand that this is a symphonic orchestra. It’s a group of at least 60 to 70 people on the stage and we are aiming for making a huge big sound. …

We are aiming for creating a unique sound of the orchestra. … To have a unique sound is something you can very rarely see and hear so it starts from making sure that all the sections in the orchestra are trying to create one same color, one same sound because we have 60 to 70 people on stage, brass, woodwinds, strings, percussion and totally unify all these great sounds into one.

It’s hard work of course. It’s not always by having necessarily the greatest time ever. … Hopefully there are not so many tears in the eyes but really we are trying to make sure that we are doing our best we can. Like I said, there are so many orchestras in the world and to be able to succeed internationally, that’s not easy. But I can see great potential in the orchestra and also in the city. It’s a beautiful place for making music, beautiful lake, beautiful nature. That also helps to make beautiful art. All these small details.

Q. What is your dream for the future of the symphony?

A. Next to this unique sound, which might actually take a couple seasons … it’s also make sure that community in Coeur d’Alene and around is really connected to the Coeur d’Alene Symphony. For instance, this year we have other groups that are joining us, Coeur d’Alene Chorale, North Idaho Youth Symphony Orchestra and so on. Eventually we would like to make sure that Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra is really an orchestra that belongs to the community of Coeur d’Alene. I’m not saying it’s not happening right now, but I will be honest. When I was auditioning, I was quite surprised that not all people in Coeur d’Alene knew that the orchestra is there. That might be also hopefully a big change. I was also saying it’d be nice to do some small concert tours. Whatever is new for orchestra I think should happen in three, four, five, six, seven, eight years to make sure the orchestra could also do some small tours abroad eventually, to really invite high level soloists and to play challenging music. Not only music that’s often heard but also living composers. I’m going to make sure the orchestra belongs to this community.

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