The Galveston Symphony Orchestra achieved quite a coup recently when it hired Trond Saeverud, orginally from Norway, as the group's new music director and conductor. Much in demand as a violinist, conductor and teacher, Saeverud is the founder and artistic director of the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra, concert master for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, leader of the NorEaster String Quartet and conductor for the University of Maine. He also founded the Harald Saeverud String Quartet Program, named after his grandfather, a famed Norwegian composer.
So what was it about tiny Galveston that succeeded in luring Saeverud away from his rather comfortable post in Maine? The weather, Saeverud tells us. "For about 15 years, [my wife and I] have come to this area for much of the winter. Being from Norway, I am happy to be surrounded by palm trees and pelicans!"
Did anyone at the orchestra happen to mention the area's frequent hurricanes? Or the fact that the island has 100 percent humidity for much of the year? Or the not-so-infrequent triple digit temperatures? "We will still go to Maine in the summers, where my wife, Joan, shows her art in many galleries and I conduct [and perform]," Saeverud explains. Ah, Galveston in the winter, Maine in the summer. Now we understand.
What He Does: "I am a conductor and a violinist. I was first trained on violin, but always with the long term plan to conduct." While conducting was always in his plans, it's not something he focused on as a young man. "When playing in orchestras, I used to find young conductors incredibly irritating. So, to avoid doing this to others, I waited until I was 40 to focus on conducting."
As both music director and conductor for the GSO, Saeverud functions in many roles, both administrative and artistic. "As with any leadership role, it is mostly about people, how to create conditions to make players comfortable, how to inspire them to do their best. And I still work as concertmaster, violin performer and teacher, in addition to conducting."
Why He Likes It: "I have always enjoyed being on the stage, participating in creating excitement, surprise, fast changing moods and emotions. In an orchestra with lots of different people, personalities, I try channel this energy to create a unified expression that is more rewarding to all than the sum of the parts.
"The most difficult - and scary - thing for me is ... to feel strongly enough about the music on demand. I have to plan very carefully to be sure to have something to give. I never use music recreationally, never listen to it for enjoyment so that when I have to change into being excited about it I have enough emotional power left to do it. To make sure to save energy, I don't involve myself in anything very meaningful on a day when I have to inspire [and perform]. This includes choosing less interesting books, movies, etc. - basically staying as under-stimulated as possible. It's very boring for my wife!"
What Inspires Him: "I get inspired by almost anything that is outside of my control, anything that is surprising, unknown. I love to travel to new places and not know anything about what I'm going to see, to experience - just take it in. And I enjoy hearing or reading thoughts and opinions that are contrary to mine. I like to be alone in rugged, wild nature. It's great to be outdoors at night in a thunderstorm. But I do also get inspiration from art - mostly other art forms than music; books, movies, theater. If it's music, I enjoy mostly sounds and expressions from other cultures, something as distant as possible from my own experience."
If Not This, Then What: "I like the stage, so the theater would have been fun. If I had the chance to get that training, I would like to direct plays, movies, maybe also act. In a totally different direction, some role in untamed nature would be exciting, too."
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If Not Here, Then Where: "My wife and I have lived in Norway, Denmark, Japan and several places in the U.S. There was never a plan. It was just a chain of coincidences have led us somewhere and I like it that way! I could live almost anyplace - as long as I am not afraid of running out of water - but I prefer places that have some newness for me."
What's Next: "A concert tour to Japan has been long delayed; I'm hoping to fit it in next year, but, mostly, I am very excited about the upcoming season with the Galveston Symphony! I'm very impressed with the orchestra, its unique culture and personality. There is a lot of potential to do great things here and I am honored to get to be part of that."
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown Gin Martini, fashion designer Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor Homer Starkey, novelist Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer Erica DelGardo, metalsmith Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter Drake Simpson, actor Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer