Goodbye, Maestro

It would be natural to think Bogidar Avramov might feel a poignant tinge of melancholy this weekend.

Not so.

The creator and artistic director of the Sierra Summer Festival Orchestra, who will leave his post this season, bounced into the Mammoth Times offices the other day with his wife, Ilka, and their little poodle, Piccolo, showing nothing less than joy.

“Mammoth has been a part of our lives for over 40 years,” he said in his charming Austrian accent.

“We have seen it in its heyday and in its economic woes, but we believe in its future and we want to participate in it.

“I am completely satisfied and fulfilled. I’m in a celebratory mood.”

That’s Avramov for you.

Over the last three decades, people who love classical music in the mountains have felt his touch from the conductor’s podium; the musicians have felt his knowledge, too.

From a small beginning, he has taken the orchestra to a height that is unusual in such a small town, in such a remote place.

It has been like growing a tree from a single seed.

“My involvement with music, and becoming, willingly or just by accident, a pioneer, has been very important to me,” he said.

“It was planting a tree and witnessing its growth, and the growth requires nurturing, and this crosses the elements, droughts and earthquakes, figuratively speaking. This seed that was planted has blossomed.”
This weekend, Avramov brings a purely classical set to St. Joseph’s Church, beginning with last night’s ensemble concert that featured Horton-Kohl Young Artist Award recipients.

Tonight (Friday) he will bring Bach, Beethoven and Brahms (”The Three Bs”) to the church. Fans are in for a treat.

When pressed as to his favorite composer, Avramov shrugged and said he might name a few: his favorite composers in the Baroque era, the Classical Era, the Romantic era, late 19th Century music or modern, 20th Century music.

But when pressed really hard to name just one, Avramov was quick on the draw.

“Brahms,” he said.

That is what concertgoers will hear Saturday evening, beginning at 8 p.m.

The love affair between Mammoth and Classical music, as expressed by Avramov, is not accidental, he said.

Classical music speaks to the town’s aficionados’ cultural lives; it is filled by the Felici Trio with the educational aspect and with the kids being involved here.

“All of this has contributed to something that is very special and very rare. Classical is an important part and well established in this small town.

“I proudly announce that we have covered the full spectrum of symphonic music here.”

Avramov, 75, is not exactly leaving altogether. He will serve in an emeritus position, and will commute among the Avramovs’ homes in Monterey, Beverly Hills, and Austria.

On Saturday, people can fawn all over him at a “Farewell Maestro Gala Dinner,” and then it really will be goodbye.

A good hunch will be that Avramov will bounce out of the concert hall with his typical exuberance, even if his fans might feel that tinge of melancholy.