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Meeting a Ballet Conductor at Sangria on Restaurant Row for a Fall 2018 Music Interview!

- Offstage with the Dancers
On Restaurant Row
338 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

Tapas, Paella, Sangria!
Seafood Stew, Lobster Ravioli!
Grilled Steak & Chops!
Empanadas, Almejas Casino!
Prix-Fixe Lunch & Dinner!
Near All Broadway Shows!
Outdoor Patio Dining!
Monday Music Nights!

A Fall 2018 Discussion with David LaMarche
Conductor, American Ballet Theatre

Eleventh Anniversary Edition on Ballet Scores

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 27, 2018

(See More ABT Interviews, Reviews, and Candids.)

This is a series of questions posed to David LaMarche, Conductor of American Ballet Theatre, which is concluding its 2018 Fall Season at the David H. Koch Theater. David LaMarche has been favorably reviewed as ABT Conductor on these pages for well over a decade. I recently chatted with Maestro LaMarche at Sangria, on Restaurant Row, at 338 West 46th Street, NYC. Judith Shapiro, Sangria Proprietress, who also teaches Flamenco at The Ailey School, stopped by to visit. David enjoyed Macallan 12-year scotch whiskey, while I chose Cardenal Mendoza fine brandy. We ordered four of Sangria’s famous tapas, “Vegetales Salteados”, Sautéed Asparagus & Spinach, with Mozzarella & Goat Cheese, David’s “Carne de Pecho”, Beef Brisket in Red Wine, with Roast Potatoes & Mixed Vegetables, “Mejillones Diablo”, Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce, with Peppers & Onions, and “Gambas Plancha”, Grilled Shrimp in Olive Oil & Garlic. For dessert we shared a slice of Limoncello Cake, just divine.

David LaMarche and I have been wining and dining and interviewing about the ballet scores for American Ballet Theatre and about the process of conducting these scores for a total of eleven years, both for Spring and Fall Seasons. The link above includes all of these dinner interviews. So, for this Eleventh Anniversary Edition, I posed a few personal, aesthetic questions of David, and his thoughtful, eloquent responses are below. We arrived at Sangria after the Saturday matinee of Fall Season’s final weekend, where David conducted Leonard Bernstein’s score for Jerome Robbins’ dynamic and melodic Fancy Free. (The full American Ballet Theatre performance schedule is here.)

REZ: David, this is our 11th year of biannual ABT ballet score-focused interviews. Over the years you have conducted numerable scores, and for Fall Season orchestral scores for one-act and plotless ballets. Tell me about a few meaningful, musical highlights for you, over the 11-year span, leading the orchestra with your baton in the pit.

DLM: For purely musical reasons, the most profound experiences have been the Stravinsky ballets – “Firebird”, and especially “The Rite of Spring””. Our orchestra is in a great place now, and it's so satisfying to conduct them in these works. I also enjoyed the challenge of the Strauss score, “Schlagobers”, which Alexei Ratmansky used for “Whipped Cream”. In general, Alexei's use of the music is so intuitive and theatrical, it just suits my taste perfectly.

REZ: Talk about some memorable Pas de Deux over the years, the couples, a few poignant, a few passionate, and a few pulsating scores, amidst varying themes of emotionality.

DLM: Even though I've conducted them more times than I can remember, the Grand Pas de Deux from all the Tchaikovsky ballets are still so much fun, especially the adagios. “Swan Lake”, which has the most nuance in terms of tempo and phrasing, always feels fresh because of the focus it requires, and the attention to the dancers. I prefer not to single out specific dancers, because I like them all for different reasons. However, it was thrilling to see and hear the audience reaction to Osipova and Hallberg after the “Romeo and Juliet” Act 1 Pas de Deux from a few years ago. I had never seen the audience demand an Act 1 curtain call before that.

REZ: For Fall 2018, which current ballet score gives you the most personal pleasure in the orchestral moment? Why? Please expand on your reflection.

DLM: I guess it depends on how you define the word pleasure! The Mozart “Symphonie Concertante” is like a jewel, with so much opportunity for beautiful phrasing, tender moments, and also moments of pure joy. That is an unalloyed pleasure. And “Fancy Free”, in addition to a terrific score, has as many cues as a Broadway show, and I love things like that, so that is also a kick. But really, “The Rite of Spring” is in an entirely different world of focus, concentration, and intensity. I would not describe it as pleasurable, except perhaps for the moment right after it ends. But it is one of our greatest 20th century scores, so rich, so varied, frighteningly difficult at times. This is the kind of score that allows you to grow as a musician and perhaps as a person too.

REZ: If you could design a musically magnetic, dream ballet program, for a gala or special event, which ballets, one act or excerpted (noting which scene or solo or pas de deux) would you choose as the program's conductor, and in which order would they be listed? Thank you so much. Here's to the next 11 years!

DLM: What a great question. So, in a fantasy program:

Apollo's solo from Balanchine's “Apollo”
The Finale from Lander's “Études”
Balcony Pas de Deux from “Romeo and Juliet”
Bedroom Pas de Deux from “Manon”
Last movement of Ratmansky's Shostakovich “Piano Concerto #1”
Last movement of “Symphony in C”
“Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”
Ashton's “The Dream” Pas de Deux
Ashton's “Sylvia” Pas de Deux.

David LaMarche at Sangria 46
with 12-Year Fine Whiskey
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

David with Sangria Wait Staff
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Vegetales Salteados
Sautéed Asparagus & Spinach,
Mozzarella & Goat Cheese
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Carne de Pecho
Beef Brisket in Red Wine,
Roast Potatoes & Mixed Vegetables
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Judith Shapiro, Sangria 46 Proprietress
with David LaMarche
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Mejillones Diablo
Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Peppers & Onions
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Gambas Plancha
Grilled Shrimp in Olive Oil & Garlic
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Limoncello Cake with Whipped Cream
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at