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August 27, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Conductor Tito Muñoz

  |   Video
  • At the age of 31, Tito Muñoz has been lauded as one of the most talented conductors of his generation. Muñoz was recently named as music director for the Phoenix Symphony and will talk about his new role and his work as a conductor.
  • Tito Muñoz - Conductor and Director, Phoenix Symphony
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, artbeat, music, phoenix, symphony, conductor, role,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona ArtBeat" features Tito Munoz, one of the most talented conductors of his generation.

Video: Munoz conducting

Ted Simons: Munoz was recently named music director of the Phoenix Symphony. Here to talk about his new role is Tito Munoz. Boy, it's good to have you here.

Tito Munoz: Pleasure to be here.

Ted Simons: Any previous experience in Arizona, Phoenix, southwest?

Tito Munoz: The two times I've visited to conduct the orchestra for basically my audition, yes.

Ted Simons: This is still kind of new to you.

Tito Munoz: This is still very new to me.

Ted Simons: Excited?

Tito Munoz: Yeah, it's hot, very hot here.

Ted Simons: I'm going to ask questions because I can.

Tito Munoz: Sure.

Ted Simons: You are the new music director, what does a music director do?

Tito Munoz: Aside from what a conductor normally does, coming into a situation with a new orchestra and guiding musicians through a program of music. We give the concerts, try to achieve a high level, try to build on something we might have worked on before. Essentially with a music director, because it will be a situation where I'm going to see the orchestra much more frequently, all throughout the year, then my goals will not just be the concert, they will be far-reaching goals, trying to build on artistic accomplishments that we've had as further reaching. Aside from that, it's also just helping the orchestra as an organization achieve more of an audience throughout the community, and be part of the community and get more people excited about classical music.

Ted Simons: Can orchestral music -- it is so steeped in tradition, every time a new CD comes out it kind of sounds like the last CD.

Tito Munoz: Yes, right.

Ted Simons: Can it be advanced and, if so, how?

Tito Munoz: I think it's the way the music is presented, just like a museum presents new ways of what they already do. We all know Van Gogh is a great painter, just like Beethoven is a great composer. Giving the audience a relatable way to see what those things are. I don't think it's just the music; the way we present it needs to be updated.

Ted Simons: Interesting. As a conductor, there's one person moving seems like more than all the others and it's you, the conductor.

Tito Munoz: Yes.

Ted Simons: When the performance is being done, what does the conductor actually do?

Tito Munoz: That's very good question. It way I like to explain it is it is very similar to what a director of a play, a movie would be doing. Which is of course they have their people, their actors, their people interpreting a script. And the director would have to have the script in front of them and know exactly what they want to get out of it. The conductor is the same thing. We have a score, the music, and we want to get something out of it. We have our talented musicians that actually do it. Because rehearsal time is very short and because we've been trained to kind of be able to follow gesturings, we do some of our directing actually in real time at the concert. You're seeing is a conductor trying to convey to musicians what to do and how to do it. I mean, of course they can read. There's a certain kind of spontaneity and interpretation that needs to be conveyed to them.

Ted Simons: So if I’m in the audience and I elbow the guy next to me and I go, that’s a great conductor. Why am I saying that’s a great conductor, what am I looking for?

Tito Munoz: Well, you’re hearing. When you hear something visceral and you hear something that really connects with you, and you hear the musicians connecting with you, really that's the most important thing. The musicians themselves are connecting with the audience. You see my back. My job is not the audience, my job is the musicians. My job is try to get them to play as best they can so that they connect with you.

Ted Simons: SO, in a certain way that a director may be known for action pictures another for drama and another one for comedy. There are conductors, all kind of have to do is make a little movement and the whole thing jumps, or they are very demonstrative. It’s basically similar to that?

Tito Munoz: It’s similar to that. Leonard Bernstein was known as a very demonstrative conductor, jumped around and everything. But one of his teachers, one of the teachers he used to have was Fritz Reiner, who was the famous conductor of the Chicago symphony orchestra for many year and Fratz Reiner was known to have the smallest gesture possible, I mean just really just tiny, tiny, tiny and Bernstein would talk about this and it was incredible that he could have the smallest gesture and in the moment he raised his hand, the sound that poured over the orchestra because, this is all relative of course, yet Bernstein was the complete opposite. Bernstein Bernstein couldn't help but be so emotive with his gestures. I think everyone finds their own way.

Ted Simons: The audience is back, they sense that, they can feel that.

Tito Munoz: Absolutely.
Ted Simons: Can a great conductor lead an average orchestra inand can an average or pedestrian conductor lead a great orchestra? I would think one would pull up the other.

Tito Munoz: That's true. The learning curve of an orchestra, you know, if we take your example of a great conductor leading a not so great orchestra, most likely the learning curve is going to be huge. Because an experienced conductor will know how to get the best out of them. That's really the mark of a great conductor. Somebody who can get the best of whoever is in front of them. You might not know the difference between a great one or a mediocre one, because the great orchestra will make the difference.

Ted Simons: That’s when the guy next to you elbows you and says, they can do a lot better if they had a better conductor.

Ted Simons: Obviously you started very young. Was there a moment when you were a kid, an “aha” moment when you realized this is what you were going do with your life?

Tito Munoz: I had many of them, actually. I was very lucky living in New York City. I didn't realize this until of course I left. I was afforded so many wonderful opportunities. I was going to the famed high school, if you've seen the movie "fame," it's now in Lincoln center. I was going to Juilliard on Saturday, LaGuardia high school during the week. I was playing with the New York Symphony on Sundays and everything took place basically on the campus of Lincoln center. I would commute every day, spending all my time at Lincoln center, going Carnegie Hall, student tickets, you know. And so my life was music. I certainly had little milestones throughout that time but I couldn't have imagined anything else.

Ted Simons: It's almost like a kid who gets into sports. They play the sport so much and then they wind up being good at the sport because they’re all the time.

Ted Simons: But you have to have a talent for it. Were there people telling you know, you can go places?

Tito Munoz: I think I had a good mix of different things. I was a violinist at first. I knew I was going to a certain point on a violin. I played professionally. Conducting of course usually happens later. Leadership roles happen later in life. But I had really good opportunities and a passion for it early on. I started to plan opportunities for myself to do it. But it wasn't until I went to the Aspen music festival in Aspen, Colorado, actually very well-known with a very prestigious conducting program. I happened to be accepted at an early age, I was. But that was sort of a rite of passage to a career in conducting. I was a kid, an undergrad, didn't know anything. That was intimidating, but at the same time gave me confidence by the end of the summer, maybe this is something I could do.

Ted Simons: Before we go, usually when I get classical folks in here, I always ask. Is there somebody who says, I just don't get classical music. Is there a piece you think people should listen to as a good entree into classic music?

Tito Munoz: That's a good question. That's a good question. I love Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, every time I hear a great performance of that, I can't imagine anybody not being gripped. It has drama, the soft side, a beautiful melody. It's such a cliché thing, the famous four notes everybody knows. If you really hear a great performance live, it's something that can grip you.

Ted Simons: And very quickly, Last question. Your favorite piece of music to conduct.

Tito Munoz: Whatever it is that week. Come in here, whatever I'm conducting.

Ted Simons: You're doing a great job already promoting. Great to meet you.

Tito Munoz: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon" we will hear about a world forum aimed at identifying a developing young business talent. And how crowd-funding is being used to develop new ideas. Thursday evening and right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Vote 2014: Post-Election Coverage

  |   Video
  • We’ll analyze the primary election results and talk about what they mean to the upcoming general election with Bob Robb, a political columnist for the Arizona Republic, and pollster Mike O’Neil.
  • Bob Robb - Political Columnist, Arizona Republic
  • Mike O’Neil - Pollster
Category: Vote 2014   |   Keywords: vote2014, post, election, coverage, results, primary, general, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Yesterday's primary election is in the books with Doug Ducey winning the Republican race for governor, Ruben Gallego defeating Mary Rose Wilcox in the democratic race for Congressional District, and two incumbent Republican state officer holders voted out. Here's just a little of what we heard last night at various election headquarters.

Video (Doug Ducey): We're halfway home and now the real race begins. I've run hard in the primary against able and worthy opponents. I'll keep running hard as your nominee. And with the honor of your support, we will win the election for governor! [Applause]

Video (Fred DuVal): I'm not about Republican, Democrat. The problem we have is a stagnant economy that is not creating the jobs of the future. Some of the ideas from the Democrats are good; some of the ideas from Republicans are good. It's about getting the right ideas that'll work in the economy and getting the Republicans and Democrats together so that we can create the kind of opportunities for our children and for ourselves and for our families that we aspire to.

Video (Mark Brnovich): I grew up here in Arizona and I’ve said this since day one of the campaign Arizonans want a principal conservative in the Attorney General's Office, someone with Arizona values, someone who's going to protect those who can't stand up and protect themselves, whether it's the elderly or young kids. I knew our message would resonate and it ultimately did resonate. I appreciate that.

Video (Ruben Gallego): We always knew we were going to be really competitive and we knew everything was working out at the doors. We had a positive message, we hit the doors in an amazing amount of time.

Video (David Garcia): We have students within the state that don't have some of the same opportunities. Ours don't have the same opportunity as students in other states. We do need to get serious, looking at our school finance system, which needs to be changed and updated. But also considering new ways to invest in our Public Schools.

Video (John Huppenthal): But the voters have spoken. The opposition to the common core was 100% on the campaign trail and it was vociferous. That issue swamped everything.

Ted Simons: Here now to help explain what really happened last night and what it means for the November general election, Arizona columnist Bob Robb and pollster Mike O'Neil. Bob, we'll start with you, general impressions from last night. What do you take away from all this?

Bob Robb: I think there were two big stories, how convincing and large Ducey's victory was, which puts him in good stead to take advantage of the Republican registration edge over Democrats leading into the general election. The second big story was the acts of political hygiene that were engaged in, getting rid of two incumbents that had pretty troubled baggage.

Mike O’Neil: In the net result of that was with the exception of Doug Ducey who moves from relative obscurity to the top of the ticket, all new people on the ticket on the republican side.

Ted Simons: Interesting, let’s talk about that governor’s race.Doug Ducey won by a considerable amount, why?

Mike O’Neil: 12%, he was out in front from the very beginning I think. I do think the Governor's endorsement of Scott Smith did something for him, it put him back in the game for a while, but too little, too late. Took him from third to second. That doesn’t get you a whole lot in the long run, I'm sure he's cursing himself for not having started earlier.

Ted Simons: As far as Ducey, a wide array of folks backing him. From the beginning, seemed like he was the anointed one.

Bob Robb: I don't know that he was anointed. But he did his preparatory work well. He began the campaign largely unknown among voters but with the broadest coalition, both financial and grass roots. So he began the campaign not as the front-runner but holding the best hand of cards. The question was could he skillfully play them during the course of the election, and I think he played them very skillfully.

Mike O’Neil: Well, while the margin was descent he only got a little more than a third of the votes but I don’t think he’s going to have difficulty, you know, getting everyone behind him within the Republican Party.
Ted Simons: How much difficulty against Fred DuVal?

Mike O’Neil: I think it could be a race. The best thing Fred got out of this was a sort of repertoire of things Republicans said about Doug Ducey, I'm sure we'll see those again.

Ted Simons: What do you think about that, that Fred didn't have a warmup game and Ducey's coming in here battle tested. Make a difference?

Bob Robb: I don't think so. DuVal has got an extraordinary amount of political presence and I don't think he needed to be battle tested. I think he needed not to waste resources in a primary, more than that. He has a tremendously steep ethical climb. Republican registration advantage is over 175,000 and turnout advantage in an off presidential race is monumental. In 68% of Republicans turned out, only 56% of Democrats turned out and only 41% of independents. So DuVal to make a contest of it has to get either a much larger Democratic turnout, a much larger independent turnout. He has to capture an unusual share of the independent vote. And he needs a larger than usual crossover Republican vote. Those are tall orders.

Mike O’Neil: All of which is to say he has to run a demonstrably better campaign. The default goes to the Republican. If he only runs a marginally better he loses. He has to do a lot better.

Ted Simons: All right, same thing for Rotellini in the attorney general's race, Garcia in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race?

Mike O’Neil: I think Garcia is quite arguably one of the most qualified candidates -- and Rob said that earlier when we were talking, I agree with that. Felecia Rotellini has the emotional -- what she has going for her is the fact that she almost won last name in what many Democrat he is regard as a stolen election. She's already done it. And she is running against a guy whose only claim to fame is he's not Tom Horne.

Ted Simons: What about those down-ticket races where Democrats see an opening? Is there an opening?

Bob Robb: There is if they have the resources to capitalize on it. Rotellini has a decent amount of money raised; she will be able to make a case for herself. And the emotional enthusiasm for the Democrats is with her in terms of the Democratic ticket. Garcia is the most qualified person running to my money, but the guy that probably has the best chance of succeeding without resources is Terry Goddard because he has such large state name I.D. My guess is it's diffusely positive, given his tenure in office and the many times he's run.

Mike O’Neil: Put this all together, this is not a purple state yet. But the interesting thing is due to individual factors, I think every one of the remaining four statewide races is potentially contestable.

Ted Simons: Terry Goddard will be running against Michelle Reagan. That last name makes a difference, doesn’t it? You’re a pollster you know what these things-

Mike O’Neil: It doesn't hurt in Republican circles. Terry Goddard- This is his fourth or fifth run at statewide office. He was elected attorney general; he got 49% of the vote running for governor. He starts with a lot of name recognition and a lot of good will.

Bob Robb: I think it sells Reagan short, because she was the only woman in a three-way race or because of her name. She's performed extremely well politically. I think she's got some political chops that shouldn't be underestimated.

Ted Simons: Although again, as a state lawmaker Representative of certain area, now you've got to get the entire state behind you, where Goddard has already worked there. Are you surprised in CD- Andy Tobin has had such a hard time winning this thing?

Bob Robb: I am not. It is an area of the state where authenticity and being from there matters. And so a candidate, who says, I will consider moving into the district if I win, is going to have problems. Also, Tobin's tenure as Speaker was viewed with a mixed sentiment by populist conservatives. And as much as urban media like the types find Kiehne alternately amusing and appalling, he's as authentic as his Cowboy boots and his horse. And he had money; he was able to spend his own money.

Ted Simons: He did. He also is now facing Ann Kirkpatrick, the incumbent in that race.

Mike O’Neil: I think this tells us a lot about the Republican primary in that district, whether or not that extends to the general electorate in that vote. I mean, Tobin, no question, is a much stronger general election candidate if he's able to pull this out.

Bob Robb: I don't think however Kiehne is the candidate; you'll find the national money completely drying up. When Paul Gosar won the nomination a few years ago, no one regarded him as a very strong candidate. But in a tidal wave action for Republicans he was able to win the district.

Ted Simons: Mary Rose Wilcox, is her political career over? Were you surprised the race was as one-sided as it was?

Mike O’Neil: Maybe the margin, not the outcome. People talked for the last six months about the Wilcox Machine. That machine hasn't been taken out for a drive in 25 years. This was generational. New politics, old politics.

Ted Simons: We've discussed this, I think Stan Barnes said get used to that name Ruben Gallego, because that is going to be a player in Arizona politics, certainly a Democratic area, for a long time.

Mike O’Neil: He has that seat as long as he wants.

Ted Simons: Yeah and can do a variety of things from that.

Bob Robb: And he's got an interest and influence extending beyond just his Congressional District. So it'll be interesting to see if he and Raul Grijalva end up bashing heads for influence within the Latino community and Democratic circles.

Ted Simons: Congressional district 9, Wendy Rogers handily defeats Ander Walter, the former quarterback, any thoughts there, surprises there at all?

Bob Robb: I think people are dismissing her chances too readily. She's a very hard worker and a transparently good person. If this is a Republican-leaning year, then that might make it more of a shot. And if President Obama provides work permits to four to five million illegal immigrants, all bets may be off in congressional races favoring Democrats in Arizona.

Ted Simons: What do you think of this race?

Mike O’Neil: Agree on the last point, but I think she starts out as the underdog.

Ted Simons: Against Kristin Sinema.

Ted Simons: All right. Before we go, the independent vote was it the factor everyone thought it would be?

Mike O’Neil: I don’t think it changed outcomes. But it looks like we went from 7-14%. I think that might give people pause in the future to discount the independent voters as a potential factor, but I'm hard pressed to find a race here where it impacted the outcome or changed it.

Ted Simons: What did you make of the independent vote?

Bob Robb: People are looking at the independent vote this year compared to 2012 when it was 9% of the Republican primary vote. But in 2010, it was 13%. So we won't know exactly what percent it was until the canvass is done. But my guess is the increase will be marginal at best. Like Mike, I did not see a race where I said I thought it made the difference.

Ted Simons: And last question before we go. The impact of endorsements, specifically Governor Brewer's endorsement. It looks like, if you're an incumbent it worked pretty well for you, but if you're a challenger not so much.

Bob Robb: Which I think means that it was irrelevant; the notion that Jan Brewer is the Ronald Reagan of Republican politics whose endorsement is a magical touch just didn't have any roots. We saw it here. I think she was largely irrelevant, even though she spent a lot of money.

Ted Simons: Largely irrelevant?

Mike O’Neil: She got Scott Smith back in the game. She got a lot of people to take a second look at him. He came in second instead of third because of her endorsement.

Ted Simons: Is she a factor now in the general if she tours the state, if she tours the state for Republican candidates?

Mike O’Neil: I think she's starting to fade into obscurity.

Ted Simons: Agree with that?

Bob Robb: I do.

Mike O’Neil: Gentlemen, great stuff. Good to have you both here.