Boise Baroque Orchestra artistic director Dan Stern suffered a stroke in early August. He's now in recovery, and he'll share the podium this weekend with Boise Philharmonic music director Robert Franz for the chamber orchestra’s opening concert.
“Once my schedule fell into place, it was an easy yes,” Franz says. “Helping a colleague like Dan is important. Both Dan and Jim (Ogle) did so much get the philharmonic to where it is today. It’s the least I can do.”
For BBO’s season opener on Sept. 19 and 21, Franz will conduct Bach’s Suite No. 3, in D Major, and Gabrielli’s “Canzon in Double Echo.” Stern will lead the closing Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 with guest pianist Victor Steinhardt.
A violinist, Stern is in his 10th season as Boise Baroque’s conductor. He was the music director of the Boise Philharmonic from 1974 to 1987. Ogle led the Boise Phil from 1987 to 2006, when he stepped down after suffering a stroke. Franz took the helm in 2008 after a year-long search for a new music director by the company.
“It’s been historic. I never would have imagined that the philharmonic director would ever lead the Baroque,” Stern says. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Stern went in for a hip replacement Aug. 4. The surgery went fine, but the next day he suffered a stroke shortly before he was scheduled to go home. He spent three more weeks in the hospital.
“It was terrifying,” Stern says. “I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t move or let my wishes be known. My wife (violinist Paula Stern) and daughter (Frances) stayed with me the whole time in the ICU.”
Since then, Stern’s recovery has been steady, he says.
“My stamina isn’t what it was, but I realize your average 71-year-old guy in rehab has no real reason to go home because they can’t do the things they love to do,” Stern says. “I’m lucky. I have Mozart to come back to. It was a motivation.”
The Boise Baroque Orchestra was founded in 2003 under conductor Richard Roller. Stern took over in September 2005 and has led the group since. BBO has grown over the years and includes many members who also play with the Philharmonic and enjoy the chance to play chamber music, which is a very different animal from symphonic music.
“It’s been great for me, because I get to conduct Bach two weeks in a row,” Franz says. The philharmonic will perform Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 at its opening concert Sept. 26 and 27.
DANA OLAND - DOLAND@IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM