Friday, August 7, 2009

Pops conductor cancels performance

Erich Kunzel takes a rest to beat cancer

Express Staff Writer

Erich Kunzel canceled his appearance at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Pops concert, which will be conducted by Alasdair Neale. Photo by

The Sun Valley Summer Symphony has welcomed Erich Kunzel as conductor for the past eight years to conduct its Pops concert. Due to a battle with cancer, Maestro Kunzel will be unable to conduct this year's concert, which takes place on Saturday, Aug. 8. Sun Valley Summer Symphony conductor Alasdair Neale has agreed to conduct Kunzel's original Bernstein tribute program featuring vocalists Tiffany Haas, Zachary Prince and Chad Johnson.

"This isn't the first time I have stepped in to help out, and I am happy to do it," Neale said. "But, we all want what is best for Erich, and we will miss seeing him in Sun Valley this year."

Fighting cancer as well as exhaustion from travel prompted Kunzel to abbreviate his performance at Riverbend in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Aug. 1, conducting only the second half of the concert to an enthusiastic audience. Following advice from his doctors to rest from travel and conducting, Kunzel made the decision to cancel his trip to Sun Valley.

Kunzel received the 2006 National Medal of Arts, presented by President and Mrs. Bush in a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House. The medal, the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government, is awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the U.S.

Called the Prince of Pops, by the Chicago Tribune, Kunzel celebrated his 50th anniversary of his professional conducting in the 2007-2008 season. Since 1977, Kunzel has recorded more than 85 albums on the Telarc label with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. More than 55 of these albums have appeared on the Top 10 Billboard Charts.

In addition, Kunzel was named Billboard magazine's Classical Crossover Artist of the Year for an unprecedented four consecutive years. Kunzel has recorded more than 125 albums and received several Grammy Awards, the distinguished Grand Prix Du Disque and the Sony Tiffany Walkman Award for "visionary recording activities." In May, Kunzel was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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