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Renowned conductor visits Fox Run

Leonard Slatkin celebrates 70th birthday in style

Created date

November 20th, 2014
Famous conductor signing copies of his book for residents


Fox Run hosted a very special birthday party in October for Detroit Symphony Orchestra Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who turned 70 earlier this year. The grand celebration featured 250 slices of birthday cake and an hour-long storytellers session and Q&A with Slatkin. 

Record accomplishments

Born in Los Angeles into an accomplished musical family, Slatkin is the music director for both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon in France. He founded the National Conducting Institute and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, and serves as the director of each. Slatkin also conducts and teaches at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School, where he studied music in his youth. 

Some of Slatkin’s recent accomplishments include leading the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall, including one in which all four Charles Ives Symphonies were presented in one evening. He also led the Orchestre National de Lyon in a Paris concert of Ravel’s L’heure espangole and L’Enfant et les sortileges and celebrated Rachmaninoff’s 140th anniversary with Denis Matsuev and the State Symphony of Russia in Moscow.

Over the years, Slatkin’s more than 100 recordings have won seven Grammy awards and garnered 64 nominations. With the Detroit Symphony, Orchestra he has made available a digital box set of the Beethoven Symphonies, and in the future he plans to make available recordings of the concerti and symphonies of Tchaikovsky. 

In his work with the Orchestre National de Lyon, Slatkin is working on recordings of the symphonic works of Maurice Ravel, Hector Berlioz, and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti with Olga Kern.

Slatkin’s other accolades include the USA’s 2003 National Medal of Arts, the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton, and several American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards. He has also received France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Austria’s Declaration of Honor in Silver, and honorary doctorates from The Julliard School, Indiana University, Michigan State University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Prior to his current posts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre National de Lyon, Slatkin served as music director of the St. Louis Symphony and National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has also held principal guest conductor positions with the Royal Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

A Detroit great

Fox Run Community Resources Coordinator Megan Smith says Slatkin has many fans among Fox Run’s residents. That is why Smith, along with colleagues Peggy Mather and Lindsay Ash, organized this special birthday event as a gift to residents, giving them the opportunity to become better acquainted with one of Detroit’s musical greats. 

Smith says Slatkin spoke about his musical heritage, read from his new book Conducting Business, and answered questions from the audience. 

After his talk, Fox Run residents and staff feted Slatkin with a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Smith says she led residents in the song, and in a memorable moment a colleague presented her with a conducting wand to conduct the performance on stage. 

“Everyone really enjoyed the Q&A with Leonard Slatkin, and quite a few books and CDs were sold, and there was lots of cake,” Smith says.

Slatkin’s fans can look forward to another exciting year ahead. During the coming months, Slatkin is scheduled to conduct at Penderecki’s 80th birthday in Warsaw; record with violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and the London Symphony; and appear with the Chicago Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood.