5 things to know about Jeffrey Kahane

May 2, 2016

Jeffrey Kahane sitting next to piano

Jeffrey Kahane is both soloist and conductor of the May 4 concert by the Gilmore Festival Chamber Orchestra, comprising members of the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestras. Read on for some trivia about this multitasking performer!

1. He compares chamber orchestras to sports teams.

Jeffrey Kahane at piano

“The kind of communication, cooperation, commitment to ferocious standards of excellence, those are the things we share with a great sports team,” Kahane says. When comparing the LA Chamber Orchestra, which he conducted, to the LA Clippers, he found one cliche to ring particularly true: “Whatever is going on off the court, outside the concert hall, we leave it behind once we get out there.”

2. He can conduct with his eyebrows.

Conducting from the piano can present a challenge when both hands are occupied. So Kahane has picked up a few new ways to use body language to direct other musicians. “I have always found it a very natural thing to do partly because I have a very substantial experience as a chamber musician. It’s something that’s just in my bones,” he says. “It’s a very participatory kind of experience.”

3. He’s a big fan (and good friend) of Yo-Yo Ma.

Yo-Yo Ma

He cites cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Daniel Hope as two of his favorite musicians. “Both Yo-Yo and Daniel have an insatiable curiosity about music and life, and the breadth and depth of their musicianship and their repertoires reflect that.”

His favorite pianists? “Ignaz Friedman, Rachmaninoff (of course), Schnabel, Edwin Fischer, Dinu Lipatti, Alfred Cortot and Josef Lhevinne. All for different reasons and in different ways.”

4. He has faith in the future of classical music.

Jeffrey Kahane classical music

“I am hopeful that those of us who care deeply about music and are committed and open to looking at it and exploring it in genuinely new ways will provide for the growth of many extraordinary young musicians all over the world.”

5. He wants you to clap between movements.

Jeffrey Kahane conducting

It’s not easy to be the only person clapping during a quiet moment in a classical recital, and Kahane won’t fault you for remaining silent between movements. But historically, he says, it’s an insult not to clap. “Mozart would have been shocked, dismayed and furious to get to the end of a movement and have the audience sit there in silence. To him, it would mean it was a failure.”

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