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Darko Butorac Uses The Language Of Gesture To Turn Ideas Into Music

If you've attended a Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale concert since 2007, you've watched energetic music director Darko Butorac on the podium, gesturing the classical masterworks to life. 2019 marks the year when he trims his directing duties down from three orchestras to two, in Asheville and Tallahassee. Butorac talks with host John Floridis about his final MSO season, his favorite pieces to conduct, his top five "desert island" composers, and parallels between conducting music and shooting hoops.For twelve years, Darko Butorac (pronounced BOO-toh-rutz) has introduced intense, challenging symphonic works to sellout Missoula crowds while continually refining the orchestra’s musicianship. In aninterview with Blue Ridge Public Radio, Butorac said, “I’m a very outgoing, gregarious person with a flair for the dramatic. I’m interested in energy, I’m interested in passion, I’m interested in connecting from the stage to the audience. I want everybody to feel something. If somebody goes to a concert and feels indifferent, that’s a failure on my part.”

Butorac'sfamily moved to Seattle from Belgrade, Serbia when he was ten years old. He credits music programs in the Seattle schools for giving him his start as a cellist. But once the conducting bug had bitten, it wasn’t long before Butorac was winning international conducting competitions and leading orchestras around the world.

“Seeing that your thoughts, expressed through gesture, can lead to creation of something, shaping and influencing sound, is incredible. It’s virtual reality before virtual reality existed. To conduct is to transfer thoughts and energy between people, and that’s very, very intoxicating.”

(Broadcast: "Musician's Spotlight,"  2/28/19. Listen on the radio Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., or via podcast.)


John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.
Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.
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