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David Gilbert, Lake Placid Sinfonietta

August 9, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - It was a Thursday, Aug. 1, when the News caught up with Lake Placid Sinfonietta Interim Artistic Director David Gilbert at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts Annex.

Sitting in the lobby, a short distance from where the orchestra was practicing with guest conductor Peter Rubardt, Gilbert explained what his role was this summer as three conductors auditioned for two weeks at a time to replace former Music Director Ron Spigelman, who left at the end of the 2018 season.

"My main role was to help coordinate between the three candidate conductors with repertoire so there wasn't overlap, two conductors wanting the same piece," Gilbert said.

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David Gilbert

Gilbert knows the Lake Placid Sinfonietta well. He was the artistic director and conductor here for seven seasons, from 1985 to 1991. More importantly, he knows the orchestra's music library. That came in handy when it came time to choose music, which dates to the early 1900s when it was formed under the auspices of the Lake Placid Club. The orchestra celebrated its centennial in 2017.

Gilbert has also been through the conductor selection process before. After Mark Laycock resigned as the Sinfonietta's artistic director/conductor at the end of the 2007 season, Gilbert was hired as the interim artistic director during a two-year process to find his replacement. He conducted the orchestra in 2008 for three weeks and coordinated the programming with auditioning conductors for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. In August 2009, Ron Spigelman was hired as the new music director.

"And it was a huge, huge thing," Gilbert said about being the interim artistic director this summer. "It's much more complicated than one would think, keeping in budget. They have separate budgets for extra instruments, extra players, rental music. ... A budget for soloists to come."

Gilbert acts as a liaison between Executive Director Debbie Fitts, the business manager and the candidates, and he answers questions from the conductors, mainly about the music in the library.

"It is enormously busy. Enormously busy," he said. "This week, in fact, is one of the busiest weeks of the season for Peter Rubardt because he goes - not just last night - but now he goes to Tupper Lake tonight and tomorrow morning a children's concert. And then rehearsals for Sunday. It just goes on and on."

After a nationwide search for a new music director, more than 100 applications were received. Then a search committee narrowed the field down, and in October 2018, the board announced three finalists who would audition this summer for the job: Kynan Johns (July 3-14), Stuart Malina (July 15-28) and Peter Rubardt (July 29 to Aug. 11).

Johns, Malina and Peter Rubardt conducted the orchestra during the Symphony Series on Sunday nights at the LPCA, during the Wednesday Park Series concerts at Mid's Park, and at special performances around the Adirondack Park, such as the Wild Center in Tupper Lake and a children's concert at St. Agnes School in Lake Placid.

"When you get that good, it's a matter of not 'Are they good or not?' It's like a marriage," Gilbert said. "Who is best fit? Who is the best fit for the whole scene, just feels right for the orchestra, for the audience and for the board?"

Gilbert was glad to be back in Lake Placid, arriving on July 30 and watching his daughter - soprano Halley Gilbert - perform during the Sunday, Aug. 4 concert.

"It's like a second home here," he said, adding that he remembers when his daughters Halley and Mara spent time watching the Sinfonietta concerts at Mid's Park.

"They were here as little kids," he said. "They used to play on that rock during the Wednesday night concerts and run around."

At age 81, Gilbert isn't really slowing down, even though he doesn't have as many jobs as he once had. He recently retired as the conductor in residence at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he taught for 33 years. But he's still the music director/conductor of the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut, a position he's held since 1975. He also teaches, composes music and has conducted many high school orchestra workshops and festivals.

"It turns out, for a conductor, when you are retiring you almost get busier," he said. "I find myself extremely busy these days, which is great."

In short, Gilbert said he's enjoyed the extremely busy days this summer as the Lake Placid Sinfonietta's interim artistic director.

"It keeps me being part of the family, and that's wonderful."



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