The Conductor’s Life, with Pablo Rus Broseta

Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony, Pablo Rus Broseta conducts music by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and more this season.

By Heidi Staub

The life of Associate Conductor of the Seattle Symphony is a whirlwind, and Pablo Rus Broseta seems to be a superhuman. When I spoke to Pablo over Skype the afternoon before he conducted the performance of Nosferatu with the Seattle Symphony, he was home as his 2-year-old son napped.

“Of course, I have my programs, then I do cover for almost every week and I work with Dima in the recording studio, then I do my guest conducting outside Seattle when I have time,” Pablo explains. “Thursday I go to Europe — I’m conducting in Germany this weekend and coming back Monday for Shostakovich. Of course, I like to do it, so I cannot complain!”

Pablo conducted last week’s performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Beatrice Rana. This is one of the almost 20 programs he is leading with the Seattle Symphony this season. In addition to his conducting gigs for the Symphony, Pablo’s many responsibilities as Associate Conductor include editing concert recordings for radio broadcast and grant support, working with the artistic staff on programming ideas, and being the cover conductor, which means personal preparation of all scores and attendance at all rehearsals and performances as the “understudy” to the conductor, and occasionally pre-rehearsing for other conductors’ concerts. If you don’t see Pablo on the podium during a concert, you’ll likely spot him out in the audience with you, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

Pablo experienced this when he received a call to take over as conductor of the Opening Night Concert when Music Director Ludovic Morlot unexpectedly had to withdraw due to an injury.

“The beginning of this season was quite special for me when I was asked to conduct the Opening Night Concert,” shared Pablo. “It was a challenge because I received that call three days before the first rehearsal, which is a bit scary, but in the other sense, I had the confidence of the orchestra. I know them well and we have a good relationship, so I was relieved because I had some trust with them.

“It was one of my favorite moments. And, of course, performing with Renée Fleming — that was a dream.”

Many people dream to perform with the likes of Renée Fleming, or Yo-Yo Ma, who Pablo conducted with the Seattle Symphony last season. “It happened a bit the same with Yo-Yo and with Renée Fleming. They’re artists that I have known since I was a kid when I would listen to their CDs and dream about maybe someday playing with them, but once you meet them, they are so close to you and they are so human — the pretenses just disappear. They just want to do their best and perform quality music. They are great artists, but you are somehow on the same communication level. It’s quite special.”

Growing up in Valencia, Spain, Pablo Rus Broseta played saxophone in a wind band orchestra. “There is a huge wind band tradition there — everybody plays clarinet, saxophone or trumpet. Once a week there would be a night where we came together to play music, so it was fun.

“It’s like an orchestra, but without strings, and with saxophones,” Pablo explains. “We played classical, transcriptions of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Beethoven arranged for wind band, and Spanish folk repertoire called paso doble, which means ‘for dance.’”

Pablo went on to study saxophone and composition at the conservatory in Valencia. “I remember when I was in school studying composition, I wrote some pieces for 10 or 15 players, but we had no conductor, so I had to conduct myself. It went okay, so I decided, why not keep working on that? From that point on, I focused on conducting.”

After his time at the conservatory in Valencia, Pablo went on to study conducting more deeply around Europe. First in Lyon, then Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Berlin. After this extensive experience with European orchestras, Pablo moved to the U.S. in 2015 to take on the role of Assistant Conductor of the Seattle Symphony and was promoted to Associate Conductor one year later.

“Coming from Europe, I was really used to European orchestras, how they work and also how their administration team works, and that’s completely different to the States. So, being here inside the orchestra for a long period helps me understand how an American orchestra works.”

In January Pablo will conduct the Prokofiev Festival, which follows the Shostakovich Festival he led last season. “It’s great to have two concerts focusing on something really specific — like concertos by Prokofiev. It’s a challenge, but I’m so happy to do it, because when you focus on one composer in such a short space and time, it gives you the opportunity to discover new things that maybe in other types of concerts you would never have.”

An advantage that Pablo brings to the Seattle Symphony is his expertise of Spanish music. On the Carmina burana program in March, the orchestra will perform Spanish composer Manuel de Falla’s Three-Cornered Hat. Most orchestras play only the suites, but this performance will be of the full ballet.

“De Falla’s not so well known as Stravinsky or Ravel, or other great composers of the 20th century, but I think he’s a great composer and I try to perform more of his music. It’s very special for me to share this music.”

Another part of the job is to work with the Seattle Symphony’s education team on programming designed for children, and Pablo is particularly passionate about this. “I love it. It’s about imagination and how to present this great music to our families and to our kids.

“This season we have some great shows. One of our Family Concerts is around Shakespeare and we are performing Prokofiev, Bernstein and Tchaikovsky, so that will be quite a big concert.”

Amidst all of his Symphony responsibilities, Pablo cherishes his time with Ludovic Morlot. “I think I’m very lucky to work for the Seattle Symphony at the time that Ludo has been Music Director. Ludovic is a very charming person, he’s a great guy, and of course, when you have a boss, there’s often some distance, but with him, from the beginning, we really worked as friends. We’re just really close as music partners and we have no problem with communication. It was been a really great experience to work with him.

“I speak with him every day after every rehearsal to give him some feedback, to see what we can improve for next rehearsal. It’s really a work in progress between him and me, and the other conductors who visit the Seattle Symphony.”

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Posted on October 30, 2017

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