Patrick Flynn, "The Complete Conductor," Dies at 72
Patrick Flynn, 72, the British conductor whose notable work encompassed the broad spectrum of symphony, ballet, opera and film, died of a heart attack on September 10, at Cedars Sinai Hospital, in Los Angeles. He was beloved in the Riverside, CA, and Saginaw Bay, MI, communities and admired for his wit and fierce loyalty to his orchestras. His spirit and talent will be sorely missed.
Active internationally since the 1960s, in 2008 Flynn would have celebrated his nineteenth season as Music Director of California’s acclaimed Riverside County Philharmonic, delivering "taut and compelling, pristine and stylish" performances (LA Times). His accessible style in outreach and programming were the driving force behind that orchestra's 300% audience growth and established him as a Pied Piper for symphonic music in Southern California.
Flynn also served as Music Director of Michigan’s Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and was a regular Guest Conductor with the Finnish National Opera and Holland Sinfonia.
Noted for his vast repertoire, rare use of a score or baton, and enthusiastic responses from critics and audiences around the world, Flynn was described by the Press Enterprise’s Jean Pierre Barricelli as "the complete conductor — the podium equivalent of a polymath." The London Daily Telegraph called Flynn "a masterly artist," continuing, "I heard things in the score I have never heard before. Here is a conductor to treasure."
Flynn’s ability to conduct Mahler from memory on a Saturday night, dance lightheartedly with children at a Sunday afternoon Pops, then jet to Australia to conduct a series of rock concerts for 12,000 was a feat not replicated by any musician on the current landscape.
"He was absolutely inspiring, with a brilliant technique that was never used for display," says Michelle Kim, Assistant Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.
Flynn conducted for many prominent orchestras and festivals on five continents. A partial listing includes the BBC, the Paris Opera, the Spoleto and Varna International Festivals, and the orchestras of New Zealand, Rio de Janeiro, Cologne, Louisville, and San Diego. His conducting was lauded for its "exceptional mastery" (Spectator Magazine) and possessing "an ambitious force held just this side of impatience, reminiscent of Toscanini and Beecham" (Press Enterprise).
A pre-eminent conductor for the ballet, Flynn conducted for Nureyev on Broadway and for the American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Netherlands Dance Theatre, among others. Fanfare Magazine named his 1996 recording of Swan Lake as one of the Best New Releases of 1996, calling Flynn "a throwback to the lost age of great ballet conductors."
As composer, Flynn’s strikingly varied work includes half a dozen film scores, TV jingles, the Australian rock opera Ned Kelly, and orchestrations and incidental music for Baryshnikov’s Don Quixote and Nutcracker.
For the theatre and TV, Flynn led (at Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber’s request) the first concert performances of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Sir Johnny Farnham (available on CD), and Sherrill Milnes, in the BBC special broadcast, Salute to America.
Born in Birmingham, England, on May 18, 1936, Patrick Flynn won Britain's Cassell Prize in piano while still a student. He received his diploma in conducting from the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he caught the attention of academy judge Sir John Barbirolli. "Sir John" took on Flynn as his only student, mentoring the young conductor for almost ten years.
Flynn’s first professional appointment was with the Australian Opera in 1970, where he led performances starring Dames Joan Sutherland and Kiri Te Kanawa.
Despite international engagements, Flynn was a passionate community arts leader. Former Riverside County Philharmonic Board President Virginia Blumenthal states, "Patrick worked tirelessly helping reorganize the entire administration and leadership of the Board. His ideas on where and how to build an audience were brilliant. His efforts to help the Board with fundraising were endless."
Saginaw Symphony Board President Garnett Sherman said, "We will miss Patrick’s musical expertise, his charisma, his engaging accent, stately stature, strong opinions, spirited conversations, conviction, wit, and soft smile. He inspired us, challenged us, and built upon the Temple Theatre stage the excellent orchestra he knew our mid-Michigan region deserved."
Flynn is survived by his former wife and closest friend, Jacqueline Porter of Dallas, TX, and friends and colleagues worldwide.
The Riverside County Philharmonic will hold a public memorial service honoring Flynn with full orchestra on Sunday, October 5, at 2:00 p.m., at The Municipal Auditorium (information: 951/787-0251). The Saginaw Bay Symphony honored Flynn on September 18 with a public memorial.
Jacqueline Porter © 2008
Editor's note: Triangle readers may recall the Maestro's work as Principal Guest Conductor of the NC Symphony in the 1981-82 season. His local debut was November 6, 1980, and he conducted here for the last time on February 21, 1983.
United Arts & Participating Arts Organizations,
"To foster appreciation, participation, and support of the arts and culture in Raleigh and Wake, United Arts is forming a group of 20-40 young professionals (35 and younger) who would like to attend a variety of art events plus do some socializing along the way. Five events will cost a total of $69. Please contact email@example.com to reserve a space and for payment details."
The following events are included in the package:
Tuesday, October 28: "War of the Worlds" and "The
Lost World," presented by L.A. Theatre Works and Center Stage
Performing Arts Series, Stewart Theatre, NCSU, Raleigh.
Social hour at Cameron Bar & Grill.
Meet at Cameron Bar & Grill @ 5:45
pm & meet at Talley Student Center @ 6:45
pm for pre-show discussion with science fiction author & NCSU
professor John Kessel.
Thursday, January 8: Bluegrass All-Star
Jam presented by
Pinecone (Piedmont Council of Traditional Music), Meymandi Concert
Hall, Raleigh. Social hour at Poole’s Downtown Diner.
Meet at Poole's @ 6:00 pm & meet at Meymandi Concert Hall @ 7:45
Thursday, April 16: "1960" -
Burning Coal Theatre Company, Murphey School Auditorium, Raleigh.
Social hour at 18 Seaboard.
Meet at 18 Seaboard @ 6:30 pm & meet at Murphey School Auditorium
@ 7:45 pm. Post-show discussion with
playwright/director and actors.
[& one additional event in March t.b.a.]
"As an umbrella fundraising organization, the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County raises money from individuals, businesses, and government entities to provide arts programming, arts services, and arts education throughout Wake County. Since 1990, United Arts has raised more than $15 million for the arts in Wake County. UA's mission is to build better communities through support and advocacy of the arts."
(Press release provided by United Arts.)