Fabio Mechetti returns: Former Spokane Symphony music director takes the baton this weekend

When Spokane Symphony music director laureate Fabio Mechetti left Spokane nearly two decades ago, the orchestra was still performing at the Opera House, now renamed the First Interstate Center for the Arts.

“My last year here was the year we decided to buy the Fox,” Mechetti said. “So to see this now, the completion of something that was almost 20 years ago, an idea … and now it’s a reality.”

Mechetti served as music director for the symphony from 1993-2004. During that time, the Spokane Symphony and Spokane Symphony Chorale released their first commercial recording and began work on the fundraising campaigns that would eventually restore and revitalize the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox to its current state. Since his time with the symphony, Mechetti has conducted many orchestras, but the bulk of his career has been spent as music director of the Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Brazil.

Rescheduled from the Spokane Symphony’s canceled 75th anniversary season, this weekend’s program will feature works by Antônio Carlos Gomes, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.

“I particularly love Strauss so whenever I have the opportunity to program I always suggest that,” Mechetti said.

Organizers also requested a Brazilian piece in honor of Mechetti’s heritage.

“When you talk about Brazilian music people think of the popular music … something with a certain flavor,” he said. “Not that many people know the romantic Brazilian composers of the 19th century.”

But Mechetti wanted something that meshed more readily with the pieces he’d already chosen – Antônio Carlos Gomes’ “Il Guarany Overture” fit the bill exactly.

“Gomez was an opera composer … in the second half of the 19th century so it’s very romantic,” he said. “It sounds a little like Verdi and the other composers from that period.”

The program continues with three excerpts from Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” before concluding with two pieces by Strauss including the famous tone poem “Don Juan” and the “Suite from Der Rosenkavalier,” a medley of selections taken from one of Strauss’ most famous operas.

“It’s gorgeous music, and I’ve never had the chance to conduct the whole opera … but the suite, I’ve done several times and I always try to program it,” he said. “I find it some of the most beautiful music ever written.”

Mechetti first came to Spokane in 1984 as an assistant conductor.

“It was my first job out of school,” he said.

Thrilled to be back in Spokane – albeit a year or two later than expected – Mechetti looks forward to catching up with old friends in the orchestra and audience alike.

“So I’ve always loved Spokane so much – it gave me my first opportunity … and meeting so many friends – it’s very meaningful for me to be able to come back.”

For information, visit spokanesymphony.org or call the box office at (509) 624-1200.