This Weekend's Performances Will Be Music Director Robert Franz's Last With Boise Philharmonic 

click to enlarge Robert Franz has been Boise Philharmonic's music director for eight years.

Harrison Berry

Robert Franz has been Boise Philharmonic's music director for eight years.

Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17, Boise Philharmonic will perform Brahms' Violin Concerto in D Major with Grammy Award-winning violinist Jennifer Frautschi and her 1722 Stradivarius violin, "ex-Cadiz." It promises to be an explosive send off for Boise Philharmonic Music Director Robert Franz, who announced in January he would leave the orchestra at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Reflecting on his time with Boise Philharmonic, Franz said being music director is "kind of like being the coach of a football team." During his tenure,  he has moved the organization forward in key areas of development, including expanding into a more ambitious musical repertoire, educational projects like the Boise State University Graduate Scholarship Quartet and putting musicians in classrooms—Franz personally makes dozens of high school visits every year—and partnering with other nonprofits like Opera Idaho and Ballet Idaho. Amid all that, Franz said he has learned "not to sweat the small stuff."

"I've become more grounded in the eight years I've been here," Franz said.

Franz may be leaving Boise Philharmonic, but he isn't out of a job. Soon after announcing his departure, Franz received a contract to travel for 10 weeks working with a handful of orchestras including the Phoenix and Corpus Christi symphonies. He has permanent gigs at the Houston and Windsor symphonies and the Fairbanks Festival. Despite the busy schedule, he'll keep a permanent residence in Boise.

"My home base is here," he said.

Franz said he came to the Boise Philharmonic with an audience-centric vision for the orchestra: to surprise and astound patrons. He said that has been a moving target, but the best way to meet that goal is for the philharmonic and other performing arts organizations to be dynamic, striving to improve the audience experience.

"They can see us on stage stretching and growing," Franz said.

If he could change anything about Boise Philharmonic on his way out the door, Franz said he would incorporate more orchestra members into other aspects of the organization, like administration and leadership. Other philharmonics around the country have done this, he said, and it has given performers a better feel for how performing arts nonprofits work and helps the organizations get a sense of their musicians' needs. 

"I trust and respect my colleagues tremendously," Franz said. "Blurring those lines can be scary, but not to me."

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