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BEST CONDUCTOR Minneapolis 2000 -

True, his appearances locally are fewer today than in the years he served as music director of the Minnesota Orchestra (from 1960 to 1979), during which time he had an instrumental hand in getting Orchestra Hall built. But when the orchestra's conductor laureate does turn up--last fall, for instance, he conducted a concerto of his own composition paired with Beethoven's Eroica Symphony--it gives the audience a chance to watch a master at work. At age 76, this Polish-born conductor and composer brings an artistic maturity to the stage that few others can muster. Over the past few years, as he has toured internationally, critical acclaim for him has been on a steady rise. Perhaps it has at last reached even the hometown crowds in the Twin Cities, where some music watchers say this awfully good conductor has been taken for granted for decades. At a time of flux for our local orchestras--the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Hugh Wolff is leaving his helm and the Minnesota Orchestra's Eiji Oue will end his tenure with the 2001-2002 season--the time is right to appreciate an internationally celebrated conductor who has stuck with the local music community. And longevity does count: With a scheduled October 2000 series conducting Beethoven's Grosse Fuge and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Skrowaczewski will mark the 40th anniversary of his debut with the orchestra.

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