What's on my desk…

It’s a very different cultural landscape today, after more than a year of relentless battering from COVID-19.  Since welcoming large audiences into concert halls is still a distant prospect, all performing arts must reinvent themselves to survive this plague.  It is a time for greater flexibility, creativity, and cooperation.  In January, I received special permission to travel to Belgium for the first time in eleven months to lead the Belgian National Orchestra.  While I was there, the orchestra’s home, the exquisite Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR), caught fire and was closed.  Happily, after 100 days of fast-tracked repairs, it reopened in early May, in time for the annual Queen Elisabeth International Competition.  At New England Conservatory, we finished the year with videotaped orchestra concerts that included wind players for the first time.  We can only hope that scientists (and enlightened leaders) will help speed the return of something closer to what was normal at the beginning of this decade.
Recent Press

"Mr. Wolff and his young charges closed the concert with a bang-up performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6. The Presto finale, with the young players reveling in the thrill of collective virtuosity, was sheer joy." – The New York Times

"Wolff's Shostakovich 10 was powerful, three-dimensional and devastating, and the Atlanta Symphony blossomed by his approach. Much of the opening movement builds to an unbearable tension. Wolff paced it tautly and meaningfully, with understated authority. When the music finally crossed that emotional threshold and plummeted into some dark netherworld of a broken psyche, Wolff did not, would not, relent... Credit Wolff with delivering the crucial essence of a harrowing masterpiece of the 20th century."

"Conductor Hugh Wolff presided over one of the Utah Symphony’s most high-spirited programs of the season on Friday. From Beethoven’s ever-popular “Leonore” Overture No. 3 to Saint-Saëns’ playful Cello Concerto No. 1 to Charles Ives’ invigorating Symphony No. 2, the concert was a sheer delight."

"Under Wolff's careful guidance, the [Minnesota] orchestra gave this music [Adès] the sort of wham-bam-socko performance it needs. Wolff, the former music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, is a gifted conductor who should be seen here more often."

"The evening's strength was the conductor, Hugh Wolff, an urbane host who without undue Sturm und Drang made Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony, the composer's third, an absolute delight."

Click here to read the full review from the Washington Post