After our final performance of Verdi's "Don Carlo" last month, we bade a fond farewell to Maestro Philippe Auguin, who led the KCOHO from 2009-2018. Here is an appreciation of the Maestro from the chair of our orchestra committee, and 3rd horn Peter de Boor.
As chair of the orchestra committee, in a certain limited sense I’m a leader of the orchestra, and I’d like to think I have learned something about leadership in the years since I assumed that role. Leadership is manifest in actions both large and small, in words and deeds, and its true measure is the effect it has on those around you.
In 2009, when Maestro Auguin first arrived at the WNO, the orchestra was suffering from a dearth of musical leadership, owing to the ill health of his predecessor, Maestro Heinz Fricke, whom we had not seen in more than a year. In his absence, Mo. Auguin took the reins of the slimmed-down concert production of Götterdämmerung, and quickly dispelled any disappointment there might have been over the financially induced downsizing. There was an immediate connection with the orchestra, and the orchestra gave almost unanimous approbation of his selection the following year to succeed Mo. Fricke.
I think the effects of Auguin’s leadership are best viewed through the prism of his singular achievement—the 2016 American Ring. Under his direction, the orchestra attained new heights of artistic excellence in our first Ring Cycle, and was justifiably lauded in the press. I think we all felt an incredible sense of achievement, a sense that the orchestra was playing on a whole new level. For many of us it will forever remain as a career landmark.
Maestro Auguin has bestowed one further legacy on the orchestra. When we reconvene in September for our 41st season as a rostered tenured ensemble, almost a quarter of the members will have been appointed by him, including a third of the titled chairs and, on a personal note, 60% of my section. The extremely high level of talent and musicianship in the musicians he has selected will continue to bear artistic fruit for many years.
The orchestra extends warm thanks for all that Maestro Auguin has done for us, for continuing our progress towards being one of the nation’s best opera and ballet orchestras, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.