Catching up with Edwin Outwater can be a schedule buster! He has so many assignments and projects in the works that he rarely stops for long in one place. I recently sat down over Zoom with this peripatetic musician to preview his upcoming online conversation with AMN Curator David Landis (October 23 at 2 p.m.). Edwin made time for me while in Miami to conduct a “Welcome Back” concert with the New World Symphony Fellows. He had just completed producing the Kennedy Center 50th Anniversary Celebration, where he was responsible for wrangling more than 70 artists from all genres and styles into “one concert with a coherent narrative and message of what the performing arts are in America in 2021.” If you’ve seen the PBS broadcast, you know it was a great success.
We talked about what he hopes to focus on during our upcoming online conversation, and what makes him inspired about the future.
EO: I’m now beginning my second year as music director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the first year was COVID year, and we did all sorts of interesting projects, so maybe talking about what we did during COVID, and also where the institution is headed, which I think is a super exciting thing for people here in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And I think that’s kind of where a lot of my attention is at the moment. And also, what is the direction of the arts in San Francisco, there’s a lot of change right now, a lot of new conductors, I am almost the elder statesman now, and what is my take as someone who’s been around a while in the arts scene. And what I see happening in the near future, and maybe not so near future with the arts in general in the city.
AMN: I just love all the different facets of what you’re doing musically, Edwin, and for me, building community and bringing people together to enjoy music and and promote our music community is really important, so I think that all the things that you’re doing are actually kind of tying into that. Not that you’re specifically working on community advocacy, but it’s a natural conduit to connect people.
EO: Yeah, I really appreciate your saying that, because in the background I am thinking about that – but it’s also just me having fun, and getting to do what I love to do and not being afraid or worried about how I’m perceived, or you know, resisting whatever label people try to put on the position, which is something I’ve managed to pull off for most of my career so far. And now, to go from drag to heavy metal to Schubert V this week is something I’m very lucky to be able to do.
AMN: Yes, and we are all lucky to be along for the ride!
Get a preview of our workshop as Edwin talks with AMN Founder Lolly Lewis about some recent projects and what’s on his schedule for the future.