written by Juanita Bawagan

Edwin Outwater is the highly imaginative music director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. He’s worked with orchestras across Canada, the United States and internationally, from the New York City Ballet to the Tokyo Symphony.

Outwater's musical personality is diverse; a Bollywood number or Rush cover is hardly out of place in between the usual fare of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. He's always looking to get involved with more projects, even with a schedule that's booked up with back-to-back performances.

CBC Radio 2's Tempo caught up with Outwater while he was in Ottawa to conduct at the National Arts Centre in December, and asked him for the top five reasons he conducts.

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. It is as fun as it looks.

There are some things in life that just feel extraordinary. For Outwater, conducting ranks right up there with driving an incredible car, climbing a mountain or surfing. He says it’s an honour for him to work with musicians, but it's also just fun.

2. The music.

The symphonic repertoire is what first drew Outwater in as a listener. He was so engaged that he decided to try his hand at conducting in high school.

"To this day, the thing that keeps me going is the music — the pieces that I revisit and also all this great new music that's being written for orchestra," he says.

3. The musicians.

Outwater says his friend Daniel Levitin, who is a neuroscientist, said orchestra musicians, like astronauts and brain surgeons, are the most highly skilled people because they must play incredibly precisely together. Outwater says he gets to see this first-hand.

"To see that happen, to be a part of that and to shape that, to me, is nothing short of a miracle every time that I do it."

4. The community.

Outwater describes an orchestra as a "community of musicians within a broader community." He says one measure of an orchestra's success is its ability to become part of the fabric of its city or region's community, and to inspire and attract different kinds of people to classical music.

5. The new frontiers of music.

"Orchestras haven't changed much since the 19th century," says Outwater. "I think it's amazing how relevant orchestras still are."

From video game soundtracks to Kanye West putting a bassoon on one of his tracks, Outwater says orchestras still hold a lot of allure. He says one of his favourite things to do as a conductor is creating an environment for crossover of people within and beyond the orchestra world.

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch with Tempo on TwitterFacebook or by email.


CBC Radio 2 Tempo

Edwin Outwater's blog

CBC Music Exclusives: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Video/Audio)

posted by Tempo Team on Jan 08, 2013