Music Director and Conductor of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra
“Every time my car and I reach the outskirts of the Coulee region, I truly feel like I’m coming home,” states Alexander Platt, who has called the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra podium home for the last 10 years.
However, the journey to La Crosse began far from God’s country. Platt was a hard-working viola player in high school. He also grew up with serious music traditions of the Episcopal Church – singing in the chapel choirs through graduate school. It was during this time, he was influenced by the rector of his church. “He had been a protégé of the Episcopal bishop of New York, a very famous man at the time,” Platt began. “He had this way of walking into a room and setting an atmosphere, while, at the same time, sincerely listening to other people. It took me years to fully realize what I had learned from him.”
By the time Platt entered Yale College, he knew he wanted to become a conductor. Upon graduation, “I was very lucky and won a Marshall Scholarship, Great Britain’s unending thank you gift to us for saving them after World War II with the Marshall Plan.” The conductor, then, spent three years at King’s College Cambridge. Platt loved the Chapel Choir there and had “an unbelievable time; music was everywhere.”
After studying in England, Platt reminisces about another special time. In 1991, at age 25, he was on stage in Boston’s Symphony Hall to audition to be a Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood. “I was conducting some devilishly hard passage from Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ with the great maestro Seiji Ozawa fifteen feet in front of me.” Although nervous, Platt exclaims, “I got it; I really got it! The moment it was over, he stood up, pointed to me and said, ‘YES.’ And so, the journey began.”
Favorite music includes almost any piece by Finland’s Jean Sibelius, the Beethoven of the 20th century. “He taps into something so vital, like into the earth itself.” On a more earthly level, Platt also favors, wine, reading books and newspapers away from the internet and swimming. Others “apparently think I have a wild sense of humor, full of mid-century cultural references,” Platt chuckles.
Those traits have carried the LSO conductor all over the world, but regardless of the location, he still values “an orchestra that presents the highest possible standards and yet remains in touch with the community.” He loves the camaraderie of the La Crosse orchestra along with the local audience, “the best anywhere.” They send love over the footlights.”