Brunch is a favourite past time shared by many and should be an extraordinary experience, one that you will cherish. Vancouver has some wonderful places for brunch. Each of the places I visit is unique for what is offered along with the type of service and selection of dishes. I am on a journey around the city to find these extraordinary places and, at the same time, I will be joined by a notable personality who may be a Film Producer or Director, Musician, Arts Festival Director, Actor or other well-known individual for Brunch at restaurants in and around Vancouver.
For my Seventy Fifth brunch in this series, I was joined by Otto Tausk who is the conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra over brunch at Glowbal Restaurant in Downtown Vancouver.
Otto Tausk is the Music Director and Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Advisor for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music. Born in Utrecht, Netherlands he initially studied violin with Viktor Liberman and Istvan Parkanyi. Studied conducting with Kenneth Montgomery, Jurjen Hempel and with Jonas Aleksa in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Between 2004 – 2007 he was Assistant Conductor to Valery Gergiev with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Presented ‘de Olifant’ prize by the City of Haarlem. He received this prestigious award for his contribution to the Arts in the Netherlands, in particular his extensive work with Holland Symfonia serving as Music Director 2007 to 2012.
Previously Music Director of Holland Symfonia (Netherlands) and the Theater und Orchester Sankt Gallen (Zwitserland) where he conducted numerous operas including the world premiere Annas Maske by Swiss composer David Hefti, the Swiss premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, and other titles: Don Giovanni, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Eugene Onegin, West Side Story, Lohengrin and Ariadne auf Naxos.
Guest conductor with: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Los Angeles Philharmonic (opening the Green Umbrella series), the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, the orchestras of Perth, Tasmania, Auckland, Melbourne and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Scottish symphonies.
During the 2018/2019 season he began with his London concert debut at the BBC Proms, conducting BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. In Vancouver programs with soloists such as James Ehnes, Renee Fleming, the Jussen Brothers and Itzhak Perlman.
Returning to the Dutch National Opera in spring 2019 with the world premiere Curuso in Cuba by fellow Dutchman Micha Hamel.
Recorded with the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Luc Braeways, and an animated version of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’), Tonhalle Orchestra St Gallen (Korngold and Diepenbrock), BBC Scottish (Mendelssohn) and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Gavin Bryers).
For the cpo label in 2011 Hans Pfitzner’s enchanting Orchesterlieder garnered international praise, not least the Classica France’s “Choc du mois”. His recent Prokofiev disc with Rosanne Philippens also received BBC Music Magazine Concerto Disc of the Month (2018).
When did you decide you wanted to become a conductor?
I used to be a violinist, I was playing in an orchestra, one day the conductor was ill and I stepped in and conducted, since then that was all I wanted to do. I was living in the Netherlands, but I went to Lithuania, to the city called Vilnius to study with a great opera conductor. After my studies in Lithuania, I became the assistant conductor to one the biggest conductors of our time and worked with Gergiev back in the Netherlands. From that moment on it was a big, big exciting journey.
What are the most challenging elements to leading an orchestra?
The most challenging and most rewarding at the same time is when you dare to let go and trust everybody. I think very often orchestras can do a fantastic job without the orchestra and we as conductors feel we need to be there all the time.
When you are not conducting or working what type of music do you listen too?
I don’t listen to music, I find listening to music influences the way I think about my works. My boys are into pop music and that is what I have to listen to at home. I do like listening to talk radio and podcasts.
Do you have a favourite instrument that you do not play?
Clarinet – because the clarinet can make the most beautiful colours in the whole orchestra, can be soft or loud, I just love the clarinet.
What is your favourite food?
(side note Tasmania had the best sushi I had ever had, I was sitting in the harbour and I saw the fisherman bring the fish right into the restaurant and make the sushi)
Both Otto and Richard were served a complimentary Berry smoothie along with a basket of Mini Donuts to start the meal, Otto then had the Lobster Grilled Cheese which came with roasted smashed potatoes and salad, and a Coffee, while Richard had an Orange Juice and the Shortrib beef hash with avocado; and each enjoyed one of the house waffles.
What is your favourite restaurant inside and outside Vancouver?
Radio Restaurant in Copenhagen.
In Vancouver it was ShuRaku on Granville before they closed.
What do you do in your off time?
Take family to our little cabin by the Dutch ocean and enjoy our time together.
Do you have a favourite period of Music?
No, I am a convinced non-specialist. I like to experience music from old to tomorrow. I just performed a completely new opera, and we have done some new symphonies for all ages, I need to have clarity so all the notes make sense, and the clarity has to be combined with something that reaches you.
Is there something you want to conduct that you haven’t conducted yet?
Salome by Richard Strauss
Is the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra planning any new recordings?
We are talking, I think making recordings are important, it is the business card for an orchestra, it is also healthy for an orchestra. It is a way to grow as an ensemble. It is a way of being extremely precise and healthy what you do and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra can be proud of itself and the city of Vancouver can be proud of the orchestra at this high level.
Is the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra planning any International tours?
We are talking, presenting ourselves outside of Vancouver is a wonderful thing and very important. Bringing this orchestra to the world is important and makes the connection to Vancouver. It should be a starting point for people not an ending point in the world, Vancouver is a destination city, but the rest of the world should meet people from Vancouver outside of the city. I think the orchestra is something the city can be proud of.
If you weren’t a conductor what would you have done?
Do you come from a musical family?
Not my parents, but my grandparents originated from Vienna, and they were pianists.
My parents loved to listen to music but were not musicians themselves.
Where was your most recent trip?
Last week, I was in Amsterdam at the Concertgebouw
Where is your next trip?
After I leave Vancouver I will be heading back home for a little holiday with my family, then I will be going to Spain.
Can you give our readers an idea of what a busy month can be like for you when traveling?
Back in September I did so much travelling that I went around the world almost twice within one month time. I was working in Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA, travelling is part of the business and I have to do it.
Do you have any advice to give young musicians who want to make it big in Classical performance?
The main thing is not to aim for being successful or big, but do it with your heart and commitment. If your goal is to be successful just to be successful it is not going to work, you have to love music.
Why did you rearrange the Orchestra here in Vancouver?
I like to move the sections around depending on the repertoire and it is the best way to set up the orchestra. It is good to change as it makes people aware of what they are hearing and what they aren’t hearing. The composer writes his piece with a certain type of orchestra setup in mind, I’m in favour of experimenting with that, because I think it should be a live art form not something that is always the same. People notice the changes which is good.
What are your favourite composers?
Every composer is my favourite when I am conducting that composers music.
What do you like to conduct?
Do you have a favourite Symphony?
What is your favourite Concerto?
Ravel Piano Concerto
Where is your home base?
Who are some of your favourite conductors?
Who has been your greatest influence on your conducting?
Are you driven by your schedule or does the VSO dictate your schedule?
I have a management agency in London that plans my schedule outside of the VSO, it is all done in good communication. With the VSO I am the Music Director, which means I am committed here as my main occupation, so my main work is here in Vancouver and everything else is extra but it is important work that I need to do. I also think working with other orchestras helps me with working with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Vancouver always comes first when planning.
Besides Vancouver where else are your working now?
I am a guest conductor with many orchestras in the USA, Europe and Australia. I do guesting weeks with the other orchestras.
How far in advance do you plan your season?
We are already planning the season after the next season.
What are the digital series that I saw in the upcoming brochure for the 2019/20 season?
We have a selection of concerts based on film scores where we show the films at the same time as we play the music. We will be featurung a variety of concerts including Harry Potter, Star Wars and Casablanca to name a few.
What is the VSO Afterwork series about?
It is something new that we are doing and it is going to be a shorter program, more casual, open and accessible. I want people to be exposed to the orchestra and the music. These concerts will be at the Orpheum but we are looking for other venues for future seasons.
Style: A La Carte
Attire: Business Casual
Time: Weekend Brunch 10:00am – 2:30pm
590 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
For Reservations call 604-602-0835
Stay tuned to my next guest Interview along with the next Brunch in and around Vancouver.
By: Richard Wolak