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Tuesday, January 24, 2017 3:00pm

Bravo to retiring musician Juris Ezergailis

Juris Ezergalis 2013.jpg

Upon his retirement last month from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, former viola section leader Juris Ezergailis was honoured by fellow ASO musicians and staff, in recognition of his 42-year tenure and deep imprint on the orchestra.

An informal celebration for Juris was held at the Adelaide Town Hall with ASO colleagues following the ASO’s Master Series concert, Fantastic Symphony on Friday 9 December, complete with a special ‘viola’ cake and sparkling wine.

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis and wife/fellow ASO musician Carolyn Mooz (viola) at the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's Carter & Wagner post-concert VIP event in Lyrics, Adelaide Festival Centre

 

ASO violist Martin Butler was asked to say a few words on behalf of the viola section players and in his speech joked about how the violas are “still a bit confused about one of the divisi passages in the Berlioz”. [Explainer: A section principal has to field lots of questions from the string section they lead, and apparently a dodgy "C#" in the Messiaen should have been a "D".] These are the sort of questions that Juris has fielded over the past 40-odd years!

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis at an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Photo shoot (photo credit: Shane Reid).

 
Martin remembered a time, many years ago (during his trial with the ASO), when he sat next to Juris on the front stand for the first time.
 
“The conductor had the temerity to insist on a change of bowing so that the violas would match the cellos,” Martin recalled.
 
“I leaned over and reluctantly scribbled in a rather hasty and untidy down bow.
 
“During the next break in playing, Juris leaned in and erased my ‘scribble’. Then, with a long, drawn out breath he replaced it with his own extremely neat and perfect form of calligraphy.”
 
Martin talked of Juris’ professionalism and also teased about how Juris would take his parts home to practise, usually at least two months in advance, to draw the diminuendos and crescendi in the parts using a ruler.
 
“He’s even used masking tape in order to facilitate page turns where the music had become tattered!” laughed Martin.
 
“Seriously though, Juris’ approach to making the music perfectly legible, as well as coming to the first rehearsal in complete readiness, has not only provided us all with an important legacy but it also shows the degree of utmost professionalism and consummate preparedness in his approach to his work in general with the ASO.
 
“Indeed, he has always been a shining example of a colleague who sets the bar very high; a very difficult act to follow.”
 
“There are simply not enough superlatives to describe [Juris’] virtuosity, dedication and contributions to our orchestra," said ASO Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello when Juris announced his plan to retire in 2016.
 

 

Above: ASO Managing Director Vince Ciccarello congratulating Juris Ezergailis on the Adelaide Town Hall stage following the final Master Series for 2016, Fantastic Symphony

 

“In 2016, the ASO celebrated its 80th anniversary and for more than half that time, Juris Ezergailis has been an important and valuable member of the orchestra.

“It’s with a mixture of sadness but also a sense of celebration that we say goodbye to Juris, who leaves after 42 years of dedicated and devoted service to the ASO,” wrote Vincent.

“It is a remarkable achievement by any standard and in any field of endeavour. Juris is going to be sorely missed by his colleagues and our audiences alike. He’s been a mainstay of ASO concert-giving over such a long time.”

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis and wife/fellow ASO musician Carolyn Mooz (viola) at an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra photo shoot

 

After four decades on a demanding practice and rehearsal schedule, Juris is looking forward to filling his time with chamber music, travel, family and friends.

Standing on the grand staircase of the Adelaide Town Hall in front of his ASO colleagues, Juris said for someone who has always felt uncomfortable in crowds, this was certainly an ‘interesting’ choice of career.

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis with the ASO viola section who performed in Fantastic Symphony at the Adelaide Town Hall.

 

“I suppose for me being immersed in some of the greatest works of art human-kind has ever produced, day-in, day-out, was a pretty strong inducement to go beyond this weakness.”

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis performing with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

 
Juris declared his list of people to thank was very long.
 

“For the sake of brevity let me put it thus,” he said. “An orchestra is a wonderful and complex organism where many people with a wide array of skills, whether they are musical skills, or negotiating and administrative skills, combine to make a unified living musical instrument that breathes life into great works of art.

“And the ASO has been my instrument – my voice – for the past 42 years,” he said.

“As I say goodbye, I would like to thank you, one and all, for being part of my voice for all these years. You are all champions and I wish you and this wonderful organisation an exciting and robust future where you can continue to nourish the soul of our community for many years to come.”

Bravo Juris on your years with the ASO! Send your well-wishes to Juris on Facebook, Twitter (@The_ASO) and Instagram with #adelaidesymphonyorchestra #bravoJuris

 

  

Above: Juris Ezergailis (viola) at  an Adelaide Symphony Orchestra photo shoot (photo credit: Shane Reid)

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis and wife/fellow ASO musician Carolyn Mooz (viola) at the Adelaide Town Hall with a stunning bouquet from Tynte Flowers.

 

Above: Juris Ezergailis and wife/fellow ASO musician Carolyn Mooz (viola) at the Adelaide Town Hall (photo credit: Jacqui Way)

 


 

This article was written by Michelle Robins, Publications & Communications Coordinator, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

 


 

Adelaide-born, of Latvian parents, Juris Ezergailis was a student of Beryl Kimber and Lloyd Davies of the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide. He participated in Australian Youth Orchestra seasons across Australia and in its 1975 tour of Asia.

In 1976, Juris joined the viola section of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and shortly thereafter became the violist of the Adelaide String Quartet. He was one of the founding members of the Adelaide Chamber Orchestra, appearing as principal violist and occasional soloist. In 1987 he became Principal Violist in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared as soloist on several occasions.

Never far away from chamber music, having grown up performing with two of his brothers in the Ezergailis String Trio, he regularly performs with the leading figures in Adelaide’s music scene.  Juris has an active interest performing new music and has premiered many new works both in the chamber and solo repertoire.

In 1990 and 1993 Juris travelled to Oslo to join the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for tours to the Salzburg festival, Zurich, Japan and Hong Kong with their Chief Conductor, Mariss Jansons.  In 1990 he performed with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra on several occasions under the directorship of Iona Brown.

In 1996 Juris took part in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural international tour of China and Asia.

Comments

very best wishes for your retirement from ASO and many happy hours continuing to make music with family and friends
Posted By: Janet Scott on Friday, January 27, 2017 10:04am
Ah, I didn't know there was a Latvian playing in ASO :)
Posted By: Liga on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 6:09pm
Congratulations Juris, and enjoy your 'retirement'. As a young Adelaide uni student, I fondly recall attending a lunchtime concert in 1972 in the Elder Hall given by the Ezergailis Trio. I believe it was my first introduction to the world of chamber music, and it has been a fabulous journey since then. Thanks for your many years of music making.
Posted By: Kym Clayton on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 11:10pm

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