Leonard Slatkin, world-renowned conductor and music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, was immersed in music as a child and at just three-years-old, he picked up his first instrument.
"My parents rehearsed every night right after dinner," he said. Slatkin's mother was a cellist and his father, a conductor and violinist. "We'd have a bite of supper and other members of the quartet would come over. I owe a great deal to them simply by having heard all this music and being influenced."
His first instrument was the violin; he moved on to the piano at eight.
"I played the viola for a while as well," he said. "I tried as many different instruments as possible."
Slatkin went on to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City and began his career as the assistant director of the Saint Louis Symphony.
"I really thought for a long time I'd be a composer," he said. "Conducting came to me after my father died. I found it was the one thing I could do the most successfully. I like to think he would have been proud of me."
Slatkin traveled the globe conducting for many years and has led virtually every major orchestra in the U.S. He earned several Grammy awards for his recordings and eventually came to Detroit to guest conduct for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
"I fell in love with the city and the orchestra," he said. "I felt I could make an impact here given all the experience I have." He began his appointment as music director for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in September 2008 and recently put down roots in Bloomfield Hills with his wife, Cindy McTee, who is a composer.
"We just recently moved to Bloomfield Hills and we really feel a part of this community." Slatkin considers his home to be a place where he can decompress from the demanding elements of his intense life as a musician.
"Where I live, I am off a main thoroughfare, but then we are in a wooded area. It's a great, private environment that is conveniently located near the very shops and markets that I love."
Slatkin earned the 2003 National Medal of Arts, a high honor given to artists by the United States government, but said he never feels as though he has reached the pinnacle of his career.
"You want to be able to think that one day you'll have mastered the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven, but for me everything could be better," he said. "There must be room for improvement."
While Slatkin hopes to eventually take more leisure time from his high-paced career, music will forever be an element of his life....continued on page 2