André Watts held a couple of hundred people spellbound tonight at Lincoln Center. No, not while seated at the piano – that starts Wednesday. Tonight he sat down with WQXR's Jeff Spurgeon in the middle of the Rubenstein Atrium to speak about his life, career, and music.
Currently a Professor of Music at Indiana University where he holds the Hamlin Endowed Chair, the 66-year-old Watts has a 50-year relationship with the New York Philharmonic that began when Leonard Bernstein selected him to perform in the famously televised Young People's Concerts. Ah, those were the good ole days.
Tonight he shared anecdotes and musings from his career. An audience member asked him if he recalled any "magical moments" in performances with any of the great conductors or musicians with whom he has performed. That elicited a lengthy and fascinating lecture about how it isn't the artist's job to go out on stage and fill himself with emotion or feel magic with the other performers. The job is to make the audience feel the magic and emotion by working as hard as possible to stay on track with the conductor and be unselfishly responsive when a musician in the orchestra wavers off course. He kept using the example of the horns being late, for some reason.
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and next Tuesday, André Watts will perform Rachmaninoff's impossibly beautiful Piano Concerto No. 2 with the NY Phil. This is one of Haglund's most favorite pieces of music, and he enjoys a recurring fantasy of an Alexei Ratmansky ballet to this music for Veronika Part, Stella Abrera, Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya (and some of the guys, too) in which the ladies are costumed in this: