Taras Krysa, musical director of the UNLV Symphony Orchestra, likens his role as conductor to delivering the story conceived by the composer to create a magical experience for audiences.
You can experience that magic next on March 13, as he leads the Las Vegas Sinfonietta’s “Mozart’s Last Three Symphonies” and again March 27 with the UNLV Symphony Orchestra’s “Bach and More!” with works by Martinů, Skoryk, and Strauss.
In the meantime, however, the Ukrainian-born musician hopes you’ll take a moment to reflect on what’s happening right now in his home country.
What led you to music?
Both of my parents are professional musicians. My father is a concert violinist and my mother is a concert pianist. I started playing violin at 6 years old and was educated in both Russia and the U.S. I played with the St. Louis Symphony before I turned to conducting.
I also was the music director of the Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra from 2016-2020. Lviv Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the best orchestras in Ukraine and it continues the central European traditions of classical music.
Today, I am involved with Las Vegas Sinfonietta, a professional chamber orchestra that I created with a group of passionate musicians here in Las Vegas. We perform a variety of classical repertoires to diverse audiences.
You are from Ukraine and still visit often with have many friends and family back home. What is your take on recent events?
Yes, I have many relatives and friends there and it is an awful feeling to not be able to help.
Ukraine is a peaceful and freedom-loving nation and has never invaded anyone. It's a young democracy that always looked to Western Europe and the U.S. as the model to follow. Ukraine is an incredibly resilient nation and will fight back if attacked. Putin is a modern day Hitler. This attack is not only an attack on Ukraine, but on all of the free world. If it is not stopped there, it will eventually reach our shores.
The pandemic certainly took a toll on live performances. What silver lining did you find in the time away from large performances?
My approach to teaching has changed. It also made me realize how important it is to build something in the community where you live. This is exactly what I am doing now.
What about performing brings you greatest joy? And teaching?
My goal as the conductor and a musician is to deliver the story conceived by the composer to the audiences. When we succeed, the experience becomes magical for the musicians and the audience alike. The best teachers I had are the ones that instilled in me (and others) the constant drive to get better after graduation. I try to be the same.
Do you have a routine you follow to prepare for stepping out on stage on opening night?
No, but I have a routine after, which is a glass of wine or beer (depending on the repertoire).
Do you have a favorite technique or two for teasing out the best performances from students?
The 5 P rule: Proper preparation prevents poor performance.