I'm the last person to learn that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra named Jaap van Zweden* its new music director, but I'm very excited anyway. I was rooting for him since I was lucky enough to experience his atom-splitting guest conductor appearance with the DSO in February 2006.
This interesting note in the DSO press bio:
The van Zwedens are very committed to bringing awareness and acceptance to the cause of autism, and in the Netherlands have established the Papageno Foundation, devoted to bringing music therapy into the homes of autistic children.
The Fort Worth Star Telegram added this information:
Yet for all of his talk about musical rigor, his tender side comes out readily. Van Zweden and his wife, Aaltje, have been married since 1983, and they have four children, ages 12 to 22. Their 16-year-old son, Benjamin, is autistic, and for years the van Zwedens have been dedicated to bringing awareness and acceptance to autism.
The couple's quest for help for Benjamin has already provided van Zweden a strong connection to the U.S. The family traveled to the Boston area to seek treatment for him, and van Zweden talks openly about undergoing therapy himself, along with his wife.
"Aaltje and I ... loved each other so much that we didn't want this disturbing our relationship. It's really tough to have a special child."
In the Netherlands, the van Zwedens have established the Papageno Foundation, devoted to helping autistic children through music therapy.
"Through music, you have the ability to get to know your child better and better," he says. "If you make sounds and you sing together with your child, that's a wonderful way to start this communication."
*(his first name is pronounced "yap," his last, "van ZVAY-den")