As the footsteps got louder and a figure began to emerge across the black floors of the circular stage at the Royal Theatre, an intensity could be felt as the 1,416 seats filled with anxious audience members eagerly awaited their new Maestro.
Danish Conductor Christian Kluxen October’s debut in October as the newly announced incoming music director of the Victoria Symphony featured a performance of Beethoven’s The Creature of Prometheus: Overture, Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
An impressive opener for the 34-year-old rising star.
Kluxen will be the 10th Music Director of the Victoria Symphony, as Maestra Tania Miller packs up her baton in Victoria after 14 seasons.
Miller — who will officially hand over the title in August — has been the driving force behind new growth, innovation and quality for the Victoria Symphony, and gained a national reputation as an advocate and communicator for the arts.
“I’m proud of being so close to a community for so long; it’s been a wonderful journey together,” she said from her home in Vancouver. “I’m proud of all of the musicians of the Victoria Symphony and their continued and constant dedication to develop music at the highest artistic level. It’s been my great pleasure.”
Miller admits there are no immediate big plans, just time to figure out her next step, but she’s confident Kluxen is the perfect fit to continue through with the Symphony’s vision.
“Christian has been such an exciting choice for the Victoria Symphony. I’m so pleased for them that they were able to make a relationship with such a dynamic and communicative, warm and excited conductor that will lead them into the future,” Miller said. “His awareness of how beautiful the orchestra is and his admiration of them is already apparent.”
The young star has been lauded internationally for his “charismatic confidence,” but his style is much more of a collaborative effort, he explained.
“It’s musical, I hope. It’s energetic, I hope. It’s about listening to the people, listening and hearing what the orchestra wants to do and finding a good balance for what I can give and what they can give me. I hope that I am a very democratic conductor,” he said.
“It’s like a marriage, where you have to find out what I can give to this person and figure out what they can give to me.”
The allure of classical compositions left an impression on Kluxen at an early age, aided by his continual exposure to creative minds. With a circle of friends all involved in creating music in one form or another, it pushed Kluxen to examine his voice within the notes.
“In the beginning (friends) drove me into music, but then I found out that there was deeper things in classical music that I thought was a good language to use,” he said.
“There is so much we can’t say with words, but with music we can say so much more without speaking.”
That vision has earned Kluxen notable acclamations throughout the international community, including as a recipient of the Danish Conductors Association’s Arne Hammelboe Scholarship, which he won three times, the Jacob Cade Grand Prize in 2007, which allowed him to conduct in New York for a year, and the 2013 Gladsaxe Music Prize.
“Having now visited Victoria twice, I’ve experienced the total and immense dedication of every single musician of the Victoria Symphony,” he said.
“It makes me trust that it is forever possible for classical music and modern orchestras to reach out and engage both existing and future audiences. No matter in which direction the works develops, music remains the strongest form of communication, and we, the Victoria Symphony, will continue to inspire people to listen.”
Kluxen will split his time between his home and family in Copenhagen and his newly adopted residence in Victoria during his four-year stint.
The Victoria Symphony will perform A Sentimental Christmas, Dec. 9 to 11 at the Royal Theatre.