Ten years ago — when the Westport Arts Center asked Alexander Platt to head its Concert Series — the timing was not right.
The 1983 Staples High School graduate was in the midst of a long career leading orchestras and an opera company in Chicago, North Dakota and Florida — plus a summer “Maverick Concerts” music festival in Woodstock, New York.
His twin brother Russell got the job instead.
Now it’s Alexander’s turn.
For professional and personal reasons — including feeling like “an itinerant pastor,” and the death of his mother (his father still lives in Westport) — Platt has returned home.
“It’s time to be intensive, rather than extensive,” the new Concert Series curator says.
“It’s wonderful to conduct orchestras. But it’s equally pleasurable to run them as a sherpa or guide.”
The chance to put a full season together — to “shape it, host it, bridge it with the community” — proved irresistible.
The Yale and King’s College Cambridge graduate is excited about the 2017-18 series. The WAC wanted classical music, jazz and “something in between.” Platt delivers it all.
From the opening on September 23 (cutting-edge pianist Anthony de Mare reimagines Stephen Sondheim), to internationally renowned violinist (and Westport resident) Igor Pikayzen, through the noted Juilliard String Quartet and the up-and-coming Calidotre String Quartet, ending with jazz and classical pianist Simon Mulligan, Platt has created 5 outstanding events.
“Even if you hate music, you’ll love these concerts,” he says. “They’re the best of the best. They bridge genres. I get in free, but I’d pay anything to hear them!”
Yet his work does not remain within the WAC’s walls.
Platt has begun building partnerships with “comrades in arms.” He’s reached out to Beechwood Arts & Innovation — his friendship and work relationship with Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito goes back more than 20 years — and Suzuki Music School.
He’s also talking with the Westport and Pequot Libraries. Platt not only wants to eliminate date conflicts; he hopes each organization can cross-promote others’ events.
The Westport native remembers hearing “first-class music” every weekend, at venues ranging from Town Hall to the Unitarian Church.
“You didn’t have to go to New York or New Haven,” Platt notes. “I want to rebuild the audience for great music right here.”
“And there’s no place I’d rather be than Westport.”