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Thomas Conlin, Conductor

Symphony Reviews

THE YEAR'S BEST CLASSICAL CONCERTS (Headline)

“The five best classical music presentations of 2004 in the Bay Area include performances by Opera San Jose, San Francisco Symphony, and Symphony Silicon Valley at the California Theatre, where more than 200 instrumentalists and singers crammed the stage for a holiday program that was rousing, joyful and handsomely performed: a great mix of the familiar (Schubert and Wagner) and the rarely heard (choral works by Poulenc and Britten), with guest conductor Thomas Conlin leading the orchestra and San Jose State Chorale in tinglingly soulful performances."
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, California

GUEST CONDUCTOR THOMAS CONLIN — A MASTER OF COORDINATION (Headline)

“...This was among the best programs yet [by Symphony Silicon Valley]: rousing, joyful and beautifully performed. It just felt right. The key seemed to be guest conductor Thomas Conlin, who had the orchestra and the massed voices of the San Jose State University Choruses sounding relaxed and confident... Conlin, who has led orchestras from West Virginia to Warsaw, brought it off, coordinating all the lanes of musical traffic... a nuanced performance that moved from sweetness to Sturm und Drang.”
— MERCURY NEWS, San Jose, California

“Throughout the program, Conlin demonstrated a clean, clear style that assured a performance in kind. A podium veteran, he communicated with authority and a solid command of dynamic and rhythmic control in a widely contrasting repertoire.”
— SAN JOSE METRO NEWS, California

“The icing on the evening’s musical cake was Conlin’s performance of Beethoven’s breathtaking Seventh Symphony.  Composer, conductor and musicians combined to radiate the boundless expression of joy that is the bottom line of symphonic music.”
— CALGARY HERALD, Canada

“Guest conductor Thomas Conlin triumphed!  His baton dances with energy and he appears to make the sounds visible. He brought emotion to the orchestra and the audience. In works by Smetana and MacDowell, Mr. Conlin obtained moments of sensuality and marvelous lyricism. In Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, Mr. Conlin tastefully emphasized the composition’s happiness, playfulness  and humor. It was exquisite!”
— ARTE PRENSA, Bogota, Colombia

“Conlin controlled the orchestra well, with obvious thorough preparation and a firm baton.”
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, California

“Maestro Thomas Conlin formed an expansive interpretation of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony that had a just-right balance of grand gesture and intimate detail...The huge expanse of the final movement, with its endlessly inventive variations, crackled like musical fireworks.”
— RITMO, Madrid, Spain

“The major test of the orchestra came in its performance of Gustav Mahler’s massive Fifth Symphony. The orchestra’s music director, Thomas Conlin, obviously had to be confident of his ensemble [The West Virginia Symphony] and its skills before taking this monumental work on the road, and the orchestra passed its exam with distinction.”
— PITTSBURGH PRESS, Pennsylvania

“With Thomas Conlin in the saddle for this Western-style pops concert, the orchestra galloped
into Copland’s ‘Rodeo,’ its fanfare and earthiness a kind of herald for things to come. Then emerged Ferde Grofe’s ‘Grand Canyon Suite.’ The tonal colorings were exquisite, the storm magnificent in its cacophony.”
— AMARILLO GLOBE, Texas

“The musical rapport demanded by Maestro Conlin of his performers was beautifully maintained at all times...Under Maestro Conlin’s control, the musicians more than met the challenges of this difficult work [Verdi’s ‘Requiem’] and the well-filled auditorium’s audience gave a standing ovation to the musicians to express their appreciation.”
— BALTIMORE  SUN, Maryland

“Thomas Conlin, a brilliant young American conductor, made his debut last evening with the orchestra of Radio Telefis Eireann. Combining an unwavering technique with a keen sense of musical styles, Conlin’s interpretations of Mozart,  Brahms, Strauss and Benjamin Lees were precise and moving...His long ovation was richly deserved.”
— IRISH TIMES, Dublin

“Conlin captivated the audience with his winsome personality.  The stirring and beautiful concert was a delight to all”
— CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, North Carolina

“Conlin led the orchestra in a tightly-constructed performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.  The celebrated guest conductor captured the dramatic mood and content of this monumental composition.  Its funeral march was truthfully paralyzing in its intensity. In [Hovhaness’] ‘Fra Angelico,’ the individual sections of the orchestra, under the watchful eye of Mr. Conlin, performed their quasi-improvisational passages both succinctly and admirably...a diverse and highly enjoyable program.”
— NEWS-SENTINEL, Knoxville, Tennessee

PHILHARMONIC CLOSES OFF IMPRESSIVELY (Headline)

“Saturday night’s concert by the Rhode Island Philharmonic proved to be an appropriate climax to an unusually exciting year of music. Thomas Conlin conducted a nicely chosen program of works by Mozart, Dvorak, Mahler and Debussy. The evening warmed up with a spirited and coherent Mozart Overture to ‘The Marriage of Figaro.’ It was a performance that emphasized the frothier side of the great composer, yet it never failed to convince. Dvorak’s Cello Concerto is a sinewy and extroverted piece of music, aspects that were greatly evident in the orchestra’s full-blooded approach. The attacks were biting and strong throughout. The strings have never sounded fuller or more convincing... The audience was swept away by the excitement.

“The concert resumed after intermission with the Adagio from Gustav Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony. Conlin, in an unusual but welcome move, prefaced the performance with a few remarks concerning the background of the music. Conlin admitted to a strong affection for the piece and conducted it with feeling. The concert closed with a virtuoso performance of Debussy’s ‘La Mer.’ The texture of the orchestral sound was wonderful to hear and the climaxes were revealed cleanly and logically. The sound of the orchestra was full-bodied and robust. This was one of the most satisfying concerts of the season. Conlin knew what he was about, performing the music with a genuine and deep love.”
— PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, Rhode Island

“Conductor Thomas Conlin and his orchestra delivered a compelling accompaniment: taut and elegant.”
— THE FRESNO BEE, California

“Guest Conductor Thomas Conlin led the orchestra in a balanced program of Baroque, classical and modern works, giving each its stylistic due: a wonderful study in contrasts. Conlin’s Mozart is elegant yet passionate, precise yet spontaneous, and romantic without being gushy. He allows the composer’s personality to shine through in all its expressive beauty...a stunning musical evening.”
— DE SCENE, Antwerp, Belgium     

“Conlin showed himself to be a serious musician. He had a firm beat throughout a diversified program. The Mozart [Overture to ‘The Marriage of Figaro’] had a fine resilience to its step as well as the warmth that should go with its foreshadowing of human comedy. Conlin’s Dvorak [cello concerto], too, had a generosity of spirit as he let out and pulled in phrases in a manner quite congenial with the concerto’s folkloristic background, and he got very good results. ‘La Mer’ gave more than an indication of how assured Conlin was in Debussy. The orchestrated color accents were beautifully in place, cadences were made pulsating and the full body was held in shape. Conlin came to the [Rhode Island] Philharmonic as a stranger only to leave last night as an agreeable companion.”
— EVENING BULLETIN, Providence, Rhode Island

“The large audience was absorbed by Mr. Conlin’s complete musicality and great intensity of feeling, his vibrant rhythms and his superb choice of pieces for a magnificent summer evening. Maestro Conlin, his orchestra and chorus, although at the end of their season, gave of themselves totally as if it were cool outside (which it wasn’t), as if they were playing some of the great ‘warhorses’ for the first time (which they weren’t) and as if it might be their last performance (which we fervently hope it will not be), and played superbly. Complete dedication, complete love for the music was poured from those onstage to us grateful souls listening as we in one body stood instantly to applaud the evening of inspired music-making.
— NEWS & OBSERVER, Raleigh, North Carolina

ORCHESTRA CONCERT IN GREAT FORM (Headline)

“Everything had form in Thursday’s concert: program, conductor, orchestra and soloist. The orchestra was led by an American conductor, Thomas Conlin, who chose to open the concert with one of Mozart’s overtures: ‘Don Giovanni.’ Conlin displayed a remarkable grip on the orchestra, which all together played up to their very best. Especially fine were the strings, which played with evenness and precision. The overture was exceptionally well-formed, with intense but controlled tone. Under Conlin’s secure and concise direction, the musical design unfolded with excellence.

“With his performance of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, Conlin strengthened his outstanding impression from the overture. His direction is effective and right to the point, and he forced the orchestra to render its very best. The outer movements sounded especially fine: the spirited Vivace and the concluding exuberant Saltarello, which was played with rare freshness and glow. It was an outstanding achievement which was well-served with unceasing applause from the public which has filled Atlantic Hall. In the Brahms Violin Concerto, the ensemble with the orchestra was very good and in tune. Kogan and Conlin gave an interpretation which we have not heard the likes of before here. The splendid concert was absolutely excellent. It was an evening we will remember: one of the grandest.”
— ROGALAND AVIS, Norway

“Thomas Conlin’s work as a Sibelius interpreter for the Second Symphony leaves no doubt that he is a fine musician. It was a dignified and noble performance that rose to moments of real poetry. The finale became a crackling, heroic march, though elsewhere the orchestra was held back in a rapt, dreamy way. In its brooding gravity, the conductor makes a believable case for the symphony’s tragic grandeur. He stressed, in the first two movements, the lonely, desolate elements of the score, and to splendid effect. Conlin’s highly personal version of this moody opus elicited a half dozen curtain calls.”
— VIRGINIAN PILOT, Norfolk

MEETING WITH MASTERS (Headline)

Orchestra concert in Atlantic Hall yesterday an extraordinary experience

“Cosmopolitan was the flavor of the orchestra concert yesterday in Atlantic Hall. With a world-famous violinist and a dynamic American conductor, the concert was far above the usual... The orchestra played with wonderful ensemble, making the Brahms concerto a giganticmusical experience... Conductor Thomas Conlin is an orchestra leader with style and living involvement. This was evident at once in the ‘Don Juan Overture’ of Mozart, which was played beautifully and in excellent taste... Conlin had an excellent grip on Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 (Italian). He was at ease before the orchestra, was clear in his direction, and intense in his interpretation of the work. It was also a precise rendition... All in all the orchestra played extraordinarily well, and the audience’s rhythmic applause was well-earned.”
— STAVANGER AFTENBLAD, Norway

“Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 is a subtle and moving work, and Conlin obviously understands its moods. The musicians rose to Conlin’s challenge beautifully, making it an all-round wonderful night for music-lovers...Under Conlin’s direction, the orchestra, in the Saint-Sans concerto, built to the high tension of the final movement.  The audience went wild!”
— THE VINDICATOR, Youngstown, Ohio

“Thomas Conlin’s interpretation [of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’] formed a riveting rhythmic drive and a satisfying balance of quiet intensity and ferocious abandon. The orchestra responded with brilliant solo work and playing that defined the rich detail of the score’s many complexities. The woodwind solos...melded into a startlingly clear texture.  Conlin and the orchestra gave the vast layers of sound an astonishing sonority without sacrificing the surging line. The frenetic ‘Ritual of the Ancestors’ and metrically mind-boggling ‘Sacrificial Dance’ were dazzling.”
— MUSICAL AMERICA, New York

“Conlin and the Eastern Philharmonic Orchestra played Hovhaness’ ‘Fra Angelico’ exceedingly well, taking great care with its balances and its colors. It made an effective opening, arresting because of its strangeness and always under control. “Shostakovich’s music supplied the intensity, with Conlin and the EPO giving a moving performance of the composer’s Symphony No. 5, Opus 47 as the concert’s finale.  Conlin conducts with energy and expressiveness.  He brought out the epic quality of the Shostakovich, realizing its many moods and changes. His interpretation was forceful, often stressing the angular quality of the music. He and the EPO maintained tension in the long lines. The orchestra played with an energy and  precision that convincingly caught the music’s driving power. Definition and shrillness combined for a wonderfully mocking scherzo. But the depth of this symphony is in the Largo, and here Conlin gave a beautifully sustained performance, long-breathed and elegiac...a performance of understanding and richness.”
— GREENSBORO DAILY NEWS, North Carolina

CONLIN, ORCHESTRA GIVE INSPIRED PERFORMANCE (Headline)

“Opening his program at Gaillard Auditorium with Wagner’s Prelude to Act III of ‘Lohengrin,’ Maestro Thomas Conlin and his instrumentalists immediately captured the admiration of their audience. It was an electric performance, spirited and well-executed, and the orchestra’s full-blown tone and precision were impressive. More of the same precision, verve and excitement were demonstrated in Hindemith’s ‘Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber,’ which followed. It was Hindemith at his very best, and the orchestra under Conlin extracted plenty of delicious fun and humor from the composition... After intermission it was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Opus 55 (‘Eroica’), in which Conlin got splendid full-bodied tone from his players.  There was, however, a fine delicacy of the strings in the opening Allegro con brio, and as he delineated every phrase in the final Scherzo and Finale movements, there were subtle nuances that brought dynamic variety and beauty to the symphony.”
— CHARLESTON NEWS & COURIER. South Carolina

“The performance was under the baton of guest conductor Thomas Conlin, who led with precision and enthusiasm.  During Roberta Peters’ selections, the accompaniments were sensitive, restrained and supportive, helping her emote without ever upstaging her. This was truly first-class accompanying, and the Orchestra da Camera sounded like a major orchestra.”
— NEWSDAY, Long Island, New York

“Thomas Conlin is the perfect conductor...On the podium he’s lithe as a jaguar, as graphic as a mime...And it’s not empty flamboyance for the audience’s sake. His beat is extraordinarily clear; his gestures surely as useful to the musicians as to the viewers. In Debussy’s ‘La Mer’ there emerged a Conlin of musical maturity and startling imagination. The pianissimos had a pregnant tension. The melodic lines flowed with liquid muscle. He propelled the third movement with a vision that turned mere weather into apocalypse. In his hands, it wasn’t only a ‘Dialogue of the Wind and the Sea’ as Debussy suggested; it was a power struggle on a vast scale. The sea boiled; the wind hissed ugly threats. Then healing sunshine broke through suspicious clouds. It was stunning!”
— THE CITIZEN, Tucson, Arizona

“Thomas Conlin’s bright conducting, fervent enthusiasm, and great communication with the musicians were his main qualities which showed fine musical results.  The dances [from ‘The Bartered Bride’] by Smetana received a brilliant rendition, but without doubt the best of the evening was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, in which Conlin showed his very distinguished capacity as interpreter of Beethoven’s music. Conlin gave splendor to the sonorous conversation with fine taste and intensity.”
— EL MUNDO, Medellin, Colombia

“When the powerful strains [of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony] finally came to an end, the audience unleashed its pent-up applause in a lengthy standing ovation.”
— SPECTATOR MAGAZINE, Raleigh, North Carolina

“Conlin gave evidence of his many years in conducting opera with his finely-etched accompaniments. The orchestra remained light, but supportive throughout... In ‘La Mer’ the orchestra captured the grand sweeping gestures of Debussy’s lush melodies and orchestration.”— ARIZONA DAILY STAR, Tucson

CONLIN ELICITS VIRTUOSITY OF KNOXVILLE’S SYMPHONY (Headline)

“Conlin’s choice of program would test severely the mettle of any professional orchestra.  That the KSO, under his watchful guidance, could successfully rise to the challenge of his Eroica, bears tribute to Conlin’s command of his craft... Throughout the Chopin concerto Conlin offered steady, reliable support.”
— THE JOURNAL, Knoxville, Tennessee

“The North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, directed by a youthful Thomas Conlin, gave a
performance that was a sheer delight for the hearers. The musicians played with spirit, verve and rare musicianship.”
— WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, North Carolina

“The Philharmonic, under the vigorous direction of Thomas Conlin, gave a fine account of itself both in concert with the guest artist, Robert Merrill, in operatic excerpts and in a varied symphonic program. The overture to Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ was given a smooth and precise reading that illuminated the many nuances of this venerable work. A marvelously atmospheric exposition of Debussy’s ‘Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun’ showcased the abilities of the orchestra.”
— THE BUFFALO NEWS, New York

THRILLING ‘AMERICAN’ EASTER CONCERT (Headline)

Conductor Thomas Conlin leads the Baden-Baden Philharmonic in an enthusiastic performance

“Thomas Conlin is one of the greatest ballet conductors. Under his energetic baton [Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’] gets a lively pacing, exactly the cheerful, rustic tone which belongs to this ballet suite... The individual movements [of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7] sounded with chamber-music clarity and harmonic brightness. Everything sprang from a celebratory character and progressed without a trace of pomposity. This was an Easter concert which could not have sounded with more enthusiasm. The thrilling interpretation of artists and their artistry was rewarded by prolonged applause.”
— BADISCHE NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN, Germany

“With much temperament, Thomas Conlin and the orchestra emphasized rhythmic pep and splendid color in the soft strings and sparkling brass [in Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’]. [Barber’s Violin Concerto] required energy and concentration from soloist, orchestra and conductor, who were rewarded with bravos. [Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7] almost exploded with joy. However, the serious and sorrowful march of the Allegretto demonstrated that only in pain is joy fully experienced. Conlin flowingly organized this movement, presenting climaxes with noble-sounding celli and violas with mild, gentle woodwinds in songful sections. The pulsing rhythmic movements were given the most energy... there were wonderful expressions of untamed wildness.”
— BADISCHES TAGBLATT, Germany

“A brilliantly conceived and executed program of American music, conducted by the American Thomas Conlin, is the high point so far in the Cairo Symphony’s current season of concerts at the Opera House. Highly contrasting selections from opera, Hollywood films and Broadway musicals kept the large audience smiling, tapping its feet, and occasionally teary-eyed over the beauty of the melodies and their settings. The orchestra played magnificently for its visiting maestro, responding to his directions like the world-class orchestra it can sometimes be.”
— CAIRO TIMES, Egypt

“When has the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra played this kind of music [Gershwin] with such fire and vigor? If only we were allowed to dance in the aisles!”
— O GLOBO ON, Rio de Janiero                                                                   

“Visiting maestro Thomas Conlin’s all-Gershwin program, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, was a most invigorating event. There were no dull moments in this rhythmically pulsating, melodically soaring, colorful, jazzy concert. Surely this is how this spirited music should be played: loose, insinuating, yet absolutely precise and in tune. What a night for music lovers, or indeed, for anyone lucky enough to have been there!”
— JORNAL DO BRASIL, Rio de Janiero

“Conlin’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s symphony [No. 4] struck a convincing balance between lush sonority and architectural strength. Many lovely melodic details and structural elements were highlighted without losing the grand design. His baton technique is expressive yet exacting, and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra responded enthusiastically, as did the audience.”
— THE TURKISH DAILY NEWS, Ankara

“Conductor Thomas Conlin has always had a strong interest in opera, so it was no surprise when he ended his 17-year leadership of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra with an all-Wagner program, including a concert version of Act I of ‘Die Walkuere’ and choruses from ‘Lohengrin,’ ‘Tannhaeuser’ and ‘Die Meistersinger.’ The orchestra...played with assurance...Conlin kept the details balanced. Certainly the web of leitmotifs... sounded as part of a convincing structure, dramatic and symphonic.

“Some moments were really memorable: the opening storm music; the rumbling fanfare for tubas that announces Hunding’s arrival; the tapestry of strings, harp and winds that accompanies the blossoming of spring; the burgeoning bugle calls... Conlin drew a rich welter of sound.”
— THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE, West Virginia

“In his pre-concert lecture, Conlin called Act I of ‘Die Walkuere’ the single greatest act in all the Wagner operas. ‘It’s all there,’ he said, ‘the grand emotions that can best be represented operatically, Wagner’s most convincing use of the leitmotiv, and the ideal balance of music and poetry.’ Conlin’s pacing brought out all these attributes and yielded spellbinding musical drama. Conlin’s conducting allowed the soloists to be heard without effort. Even in Wagner’s grandest climaxes the orchestra played with precision and balance.”
— AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, New York

“Act I of ‘Die Walkuere’ provided a splendid finale to West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s 62nd season. The occasion marked the end of the 17-year tenure of artistic director and conductor Thomas Conlin, whose vision and energy transformed a community orchestra into one of the nation’s finest ensembles. Among Conlin’s credits is the WVSO’s distinction of being the only American symphonic organization to regularly present its own fully-staged opera productions... The balance of the program consisted of great choral scenes from Wagner operas... For these the WVSO was joined by [soloists] and the WVSO Chorus (which Conlin founded in 1985)... [which] sang with clarity and excellent diction.

“The orchestra, under Conlin, played throughout the evening with verve and commitment, notably the large brass section augmented by four Wagner tuben for ‘Die Walkuere.’ So realistically did Conlin conjure the opening storm that I found myself reaching for my umbrella!
— OPERA NEWS, New York