The Utah Symphony is one of Americas premiere orchestras and is known internationally for its distinctive performances. On this week's Person to Person, Shauna Lake sits down with Thierry Fischer, the conductor for this impressive group of musicians. Fischer took over as music director of the Utah Symphony in 2009 and his energetic, dynamic approach to life has had a positive impact on the orchestra's musical identity.
Shauna Lake: Thierry thank you so much for being here and doing this today; You were saying it was kind of an interesting perspective to be on this level of Abravanal Hall isn't it?
Thierry Fischer: Yeah I like it I don't usually see the stage this way but I like it. Actually I like it very much.
Shauna Lake: What is it like to be down there and conducting? Most of us will never experience that feeling. What does it feel like?
Thierry Fischer: It's a privilege because I feel like being an architect of sounds. Sometimes I like to say Im working in a shower of sounds every morning in the orchestra.
Shauna Lake: People say that you are one of a kind. That Salt Lake is so lucky to have you. Different reviews and reviewers, what is it that makes you so special?
Thierry Fischer: If only I could answer that. I don't feel special at all. I feel privileged. I feel incredibly lucky to not only be a musician but a conductor, but also very lucky to be here in Salt Lake.
Shauna Lake: Are you surprised that Salt Lake City, for a city of this size, has the amount of commitment and passion for the arts at it does and the amount of talent here. That lives actually right in the city?
Thierry Fischer: Im not surprised at all. And to be really honest I did check this out before accepting the job. I came here to a little bit of the culture and to see the scenery and the energy in the city and the art organizations. I met different art leaders and community leaders before saying yes just to get a sense of if I could be myself to create this wonderful excellence with this orchestra.
Shauna Lake: How did you become so involved in music? Was it a part of your childhood? Where did your passion come from?
Thierry Fischer: It came by accident actually. I'm not coming from a musical family at all. I'm just like the black sheep. The one of the family in many generations. It came nearly by accident. I started as a flute player. I studied the recorder and then the flute and I was singing in choruses. I loved this very very much when I was a student. And then by accident I became a conductor, replacing an ill colleague.
Shauna Lake: When was your moment that you knew? Did you have an electrifying moment when you knew this is it; this is what I want to do forever.
Thierry Fischer: Yes. This ill conductor phoned me. I was in Geneva and he told me 'Thierry can you do this rehearsal for me?' It was with a choir actually. And I said, 'yeah but Ive never conducted,' and he said 'yeah, but Ive phoned the whole city. Please can you do it? Im feeling really bad.' So I went there and after a minute I could say to myself, my life is changed.
Shauna Lake: What about nature? Does that inspire you with your conducting? Living in Utah, the beautiful mountains do you hike and take advantage of everything that Utah has to offer? The skiing maybe also?
Thierry Fischer: Yes to everything. I'm a keen skier. I love skiing. I'm Swiss so I used to ski a lot in Switzerland. And here is very different. The snow is lighter.
Shauna Lake: Is it better or worse than Switzerland?
Thierry Fischer: Its different and I love it very much. The main difference is the lightness of the snow. It's very powderyish and I like it. I'm a very much outdoors guy. For many reasons, but one of the reasons is I guess that my life is nourished by nature, and nature helps my work, and my work helps my life. So everything is connected. I could not just be somebody working non-stop.
Shauna Lake: What about your wife Catherine? Have you guys been happy here and have you acclimated into the community? Have you made some friends, and go to dinner parties and things like that?
Thierry Fischer: Absolutely, we are really, really happy in Salt Lake. Catherine is an art restorer so she is working in the Utah Museum for Fine Arts up at the University; and she is really pleased there. They are a great team, great director. We are both active in the community and we have great, great friends in different kinds of arenas and we have a very attractive and heavy social life.
Shauna Lake: What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
Thierry Fischer: In an ideal world I would be a football player. But forget it--Im not good enough so I say that as a joke in an ideal world. I would probably be either a teacher or a journalist.
Shauna Lake: One last question. What would you tell people who maybe haven't been to this particular hall and don't know what they would be in for. What would the experience be like for a first timer?
Thierry Fischer: I would say, don't think too hard. Just come dressed the way you want come with who you want and don't be afraid to make a little bit of noise if you are impressed. Just listen, close your eyes and look at the amazing prospective energy we have on stage. And our goal on stage is to create the unexpectable. Nothing will replace the feeling of sharing a life event in a whole with other people rather you know them or not. You really leave a concert different just for a little moment. But life is about little moments.
For more, visit utahsymphony.org
-Written and Produced by Angie Denison
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)