Press Highlights

Michael Butterman, conductor

Under the poised, confident baton of its music director and conductor Michael Butterman, the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra has moved out of the financial doldrums and into an era of unprecedented popularity and critical recognition.
~Boulder Magazine

The Boulder Philharmonic closed out its season in front of a packed house on April 26. Macky Auditorium was filled with flowers for ticket subscribers, a fitting tribute in its season themed “Nature & Music.” The program offered a finely balanced, fresh mix of repertoire with plenty of charm and musical excellence. Conductor Michael Butterman filled the hall with an understated grandeur, and the orchestra created a rich, delicately blended sound throughout the evening. ~Ruth L. Carver, The Scen3

About Butterman: The guy's got stage presence, but he never diverts one's attention from what is happening musically. He's confident and relaxed on the podium, clearly articulating his directions, sometimes with a baton, sometimes without when hands alone work better at conveying a broader range of important signals. He coerced robust music-making from the players while ensuring that all the details could be heard. His command was especially apparent when the orchestra played the Organ Symphony. ~Adam Parker, The Post and Courier

Maestro Butterman and his players consistently brought out the best in the music, realizing it’s many moods effectively and delivering all-out, shiver-me-timbers sonic splendor from start to finish. The strings sounded lush and rosy, and the brasses were magnificent. Butterman added his own touches to the music, unique accents and tempo variations that I had never heard before in this piece. And we got our first look at his conducting style. Tall and handsomely rangy, his long, sweeping arms and expressive hand-gestures left no doubt in his players’ minds as to exactly what he wanted from them.  ~Lindsay Koob, Charleston City Paper

Butterman guided everyone through Bruckner's Fourth with mastery and extreme sensitivity to the composer's intentions.  ~Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera

The Boulder Philharmonic, with Maestro Butterman leading the way, was absolutely sensational in the performance of this work...It is also very clear that Maestro Butterman understands how this Mahler Symphony (Symphony No. 1) should be performed. The tempos were perfect, and the entire orchestra performed with enthusiasm and sincerity under his direction. In spite of this symphony’s emotional turbulence, and even taking into account the artistry that it displays, it is still a good 'first' work to initiate those who are unfamiliar with Mahler. I hope that the Boulder Phil will perform another Mahler symphony soon. And I think that says a great deal about the performance ability of this orchestra. They are excellent." ~Robin McNeil, OpusColorado.com 

"Michael Butterman has extended his contract with the orchestra for the 2013-2014 seasons. In addition, he has extended his contract as music director with the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Jacksonville Symphony (his third season) and his 12th season as principal conductor for Education and Outreach with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. There is no question that this is good news, for he has made significant improvements in the Boulder Philharmonic orchestra, and he has implemented some very creative programming in the years that he has been the conductor. It is also interesting and easy to see that the soloists who perform with this orchestra seem to enjoy very much working with Michael Butterman, not only because he has absolutely no difficulty communicating with the orchestra, but because he is a superior musician. It truly seems as though everyone in the Boulder Phil likes him. Isn’t that an interesting thing to say about a conductor? I encourage all of you, with genuine enthusiasm, to become audience members of the Boulder Philharmonic. It is truly one of the finer orchestras in this state." ~OpusColorado.com, Robin McNeil 

“Music director and conductor Michael Butterman and his band of dedicated musicians in the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra make the drive between Denver and Boulder well worth the trip. At Macky Auditorium on Saturday, the amiable young maestro and two stars - clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and composer Bill Douglas - packed the 2,000-seat house. The philharmonic's subscription rate is at a five-year high, and one secret to the uptick might be that, while Butterman's baton evokes quality musicianship from the orchestra, they don't take themselves too seriously. There is a lightness of being and joy of performing among the players that make the whole concert experience what it should be: engaging and entertaining." ~The Denver Post, Sabine Kortals 

"Michael Butterman was named music director of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006 and in less than two complete seasons he has totally revitalized the ensemble through innovative programming and numerous collaborations with other local arts organizations. Butterman has - above all - integrated the Phil into the community, stressing that it is no way an elite enterprise only for initiates, but a group out to attract a new audience with interests that reach beyond music. He has worked successfully with local dance, theater, and film projects, and also with visual artists...the excitement that Butterman has brought to the Phil is attracting audience and critics from the entire region. He’s an energetic and charismatic man as well as a gifted musician. One can count on him to exert himself to the limit to make an endeavor work.” ~Wes Blomster (Boulder Daily Camera music critic and contributor to The Strad, Opera News and American Record Guide)

“Michael Butterman is one of the clearest, most elegant conductors I have worked with during the span of my 30-year career with the St. Louis Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Casals Festival Orchestra. He is one of the best conductors of his generation. He also has a rare combination of communication and leadership skills with which to oversee the future of any fine orchestra.” ~Nancy Uscher, violist

Butterman’s debut brings out best in Philharmonic. “Michael Butterman has already shown in many ways why he won the job. He has been actively engaged in the community since his appointment, presenting small recitals and appearing at community events. Much of the Phil audience, therefore, already knew Butterman as an incredibly likable, approachable and engaging person...This was quite simply one of the finest Phil concerts in the last several years...In the prelude to Wagner’s “Meistersinger,” the orchestra’s brass section began the evening auspiciously with a robust but not overpowering sound.  It would be the first of many great moments for the brass...(of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances) Butterman found ways to make them feel fresh and exciting, with crisp and precise playing from the whole ensemble...(of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet) Butterman’s choices and ordering reflected the dramatic structure of the ballet and was highly effective. The orchestra retained its fine form throughout this expressive and colorful music.” ~Boulder Daily Camera, Kelly Dean Hansen 

Phil’s Butterman left his mark on ’06.  “There's no room for debate — Michael Butterman was clearly No. 1 on the classical-music scene in Boulder in 2006. And what makes that amazing is that he has thus far conducted only one concert here as newly appointed music director of the Boulder Philharmonic. But Butterman didn't wait for that November event to make his mark within the community. Following his appointment last spring he came to Boulder several times — both to introduce himself as a conductor at a number of free public concerts, but also to meet with leaders of other organizations to make plans that will revitalize the Phil and insure its fiscal well-being. For the November concert, Butterman chose an all-orchestral program to underscore the quality of the ensemble, which is nearing its 50th anniversary season. And he left the audience humming with satisfaction and talking about how "fun" the evening had been.” ~Boulder Daily Camera, Wes Blomster and Kelly Dean Hansen 

Shreveport Symphony ends season with a bang-up concert.  “While the music may not be new to our ears, the passion through which it was presented was always fresh, lively and, with the help of the congenial Butterman, engaging.  What the season inspired was a more active form of listening than I’ve witnessed during the past three seasons. On and off the podium, Butterman has been advocating for enlightened listening. We are getting his message. Judging simply by a season full of buzzing lobbies, standing ovations and full houses, this orchestra is very well loved by its supporters. And the supporters love Butterman.” ~Shreveport Times, Alexandyr Kent 

Symphony offers another stunner.  “Conductor Michael Butterman demonstrated exquisite control over the orchestra...Throughout a season of strong concerts, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra has demonstrated why it remains vital to the artistic life of the city and region.” ~Shreveport Times, Alexandyr Kent 

“Butterman's enthusiasm, daring programming and intriguing themes have energized the orchestra since his arrival.” ~Boulder Daily Camera, Kelly Dean Hansen 

“Music Director Michael Butterman’s approach this year of mixing new and exciting programming with familiar standards provided another great success with this concert...Butterman and the orchestral musicians played the Douglas concerto and Barrak’s tone poem with a surety that made the world premieres seem like works of great familiarity. The Dvorak and Ginastera pieces were both exceptionally well-played.” ~Boulder Daily Camera, Kelly Dean Hansen

“This piece (Respighi’s Botticelli triptych) demonstrated Butterman’s ongoing commitment to giving audiences more than just music. He works to embed the programming themes into the patrons’ minds and engage them not only sonically but also emotionally and intellectually. His enthusiasm puts audiences at ease and makes concerts worth more than their ticket prices.” ~Shreveport Times, Alexandyr Kent 

“Michael Butterman has conducted yet another winner in a season full of winners. His engaging introductions and sweaty brow suggest he’s doing everything he can to make this music matter to musicians and listeners alike.” ~Shreveport Times, Alexandyr Kent

Shreveport Symphony Orchestra opens season with sold-out concert.  “It was reassuring to see that 60 years after its founding, the SSO remains a community magnet...The bill of Mozart, Liszt, Schubert and Tchaikovsky did not amount to a pyrotechnical evening, which is where Butterman enters the scene. He sells the audience a piece of music by using his conductor’s insight and succinct, witty style...At the evening’s end the audience congratulated the musicians and Butterman via sustained applause. And the Maestro was ready for it. With graceful bearing and cogent timing he closed the evening with a quiet 20th century piece, Ravel’s Pavanne.” ~Shreveport Forum, Robert Trudeau 

"On the podium, Butterman — currently at home with the Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic and the Jacksonville (Fla.) Orchestra — is an elegant figure, the master of gestures as graceful as they are meaningful. His instructions are precise. He evokes, rather than giving commands, and in all sections of the ensemble, Phil members played their hearts out for him...Butterman showed himself a classicist in his careful control of the performance and his respect for the transparent clarity of the work (Prokofiev's 1918 "Classical" Symphony). ~Boulder Daily Camera, Wes Blomster 

“Butterman’s cleanly expressive conducting style drew little attention to itself while flinging orchestral colors to all corners of the Great Hall...Butterman was the perfect intermediary between orchestra and soloist, dealing out brass blasts and piano arpeggios with split-second timing. He was rock-sold and incredibly patient. Butterman’s steadfastness was contagious to the audience...not once did he force a gesture or milk a moment.” ~Lansing City Pulse, Lawrence Consentino 

“Months of anticipation came to an end with Michael Butterman, Shreveport Symphony’s new Music Director, answering the call to action with a gracious stage presence, then leading a spirited and sometimes explosive program...Butterman drew warmth and richness from the orchestra, especially during the lyrical exchanges between brass and string sections...an impressive debut by the orchestra’s new Music Director and a great start to a new season.” ~Shreveport Times, Alexandyr Kent 

“Michael’s sensitive musicianship is complemented by a refined, elegant conducting technique and an uncommon dedication to his craft. He is an effective and efficient communicator in rehearsal, as well as an exciting and charismatic performer. Furthermore, his musical insight and personal warmth endear him to his orchestral players.” ~Jorma Panula, internationally renowned conducting pedagogue

“Butterman’s ace in the hole for this outing was musical interpretation. Butterman, displaying insightful musical knowledge, was able to bring forth those pictures in a  concert that was filled with musical coloration from the opening to the closing notes...Watching Butterman work the musicians was about as much fun as listening to this evocative piece. He helped the orchestra bring great lyrical depth...to Butterman, bravo.” ~Shreveport Forum, Lane Crockett 

“Conductor Michael Butterman gave an energetic account of the score, conducting the RPO with a hyper-emotional intensity that brought out all the glory and grandeur of Tchaikovsky” ~Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, John Pitcher 

“The evening’s guest conductor had clearly achieved a remarkable rapport with the symphony’s musicians in his short week working with them. Some of the reasons were easy to see. Butterman’s beat is clear and uncluttered by “conductorly” posturing. It was obvious that he knew what he wanted and had the technique to achieve his goals efficiently. The orchestra players rewarded his skills with some of their finest playing.” ~Spokane Spokesman-Review, Travis Rivers 

“At the core of the production, bringing plenty of intelligence to the performance was Music Director and Conductor Michael Butterman. Butterman, the opera’s staff music director, propelled the music with a clear sense of dramatic pacing, letting it open up to give the singers sympathetic support without losing forward momentum.” ~Albuquerque Journal, Joanne Hoover

“Michael Butterman, who led the Rochester Philharmonic, was a marvelous enabler, serving up one lush romantic phrase after another.” ~Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, John Pitcher

“Emotions ran high in the first of this weekend’s three Masterworks concerts, as the ensemble offered an evening of high drama and passion in the Romantic tradition...conductor Michael Butterman and the players threw themselves into this fairy tale with a great deal of charm (Dvorák Noon Witch)...Butterman and the strings took Elgar’s swells and dynamic surges to the far boundaries of melodrama, without becoming overwrought or precious; the results were flawless and emotionally compelling.”  (Elgar Enigma Variations) ~Jacksonville Times-Union, Alyn Wambeke 

“Music Director Michael Butterman injected definitive energy into the orchestra from its opening notes, conducting with dramatic flair and giving the singers supple support” (Madama Butterfly). ~Albuquerque Journal, Joanne Hoover

“Butterman led the orchestra in a well-delivered performance that explored new musical ground...Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony was grand and joyful and was delivered with finesse and a happy exuberance.” ~Jacksonville Times-Union, Jaimie Wilson 

“Michael Butterman oozed excitement for the music he was conducting, the orchestra played marvelously and the choirs were angelic." ~Quad City Times, Mary Louise Speer 

“The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra presented bold portrayals of legendary heroes Friday night.  Michael Butterman, conductor, explained and demonstrated the cast of characters in the music reminiscent of the Leonard Bernstein young people’s concerts back in the 1950’s. Between his commentary and the well-written program notes, the concert was a literary delight and a musical bon mot.  Butterman was well-suited to the idea of musical story since much of his conducting has been in opera, and his articulate descriptions were full of visual detail...Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan has one of the most difficult openings of any concert fare, but its precise delivery set the tone for the rest of the program...the orchestra’s playing was extraordinarily clean—entrances sounded as if they were made by one instrument with many timbres. And the performance was one of the most musical that we have heard in a long time. The audience responded with Bravos at the end of the demanding and well-executed program.” ~Mobile (AL) Harbinger, Patricia Pinson

“Under the baton of guest conductor Michael Butterman, the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus found just the right lead...Butterman brought out the best in his forces by emphasizing tonal lightness and rhythmic clarity in the orchestra...Butterman showed other strengths as well: a fine sense of Handel’s arching phrases; an assured podium manner; a clear beat; good cues to the chorus.” ~Santa Fe New Mexican, Craig Smith 

“...and what glorious music it is. It begins with a glowing reading of the overture under the suave, controlled conducting of Michael Butterman and continues that way throughout the evening.” ~The Alliance Review, Thomas Harper 

“Musical Director Michael Butterman finessed first-rate work from the orchestra.” ~Variety, Daniel Selznick 

“The musical direction, by Michael Butterman, is loving—an embrace of Bernstein’s neglected score.” ~The Washington Post, Lloyd Rose

“Michael Butterman conducted with vitality and affection.” ~The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Donald Rosenberg