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Home Work: Inside Eckart Preu's artistic retreat

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Eckart Preu's workspace - DON HAMILTON PHOTO
  • Don Hamilton photo
  • Eckart Preu's workspace

Plenty gets written about the design of spaces where we live, as well as where we work. Yet what about when those spaces are one and the same, such as for the increasing number of people who "work from home"? Health & Home recently paid a visit to the home studio of Spokane Symphony Music Director and Conductor Eckart Preu.

"I don't have time to wait for inspiration," says Preu, who has led the Spokane Symphony for 15 years, the last few years of which he also directed symphonies in Long Beach, California, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

Instead, the conductor has learned to compartmentalize, becoming efficient at working whenever and wherever he can, including airplanes, which he does a lot.

"Creative work is all about focus and discipline," says Preu, who also works out of a first floor office of the Spokane house he shares with his wife and two daughters. His desk is a large, beveled glass tabletop spanning two IKEA sawhorses. On it: his Macintosh laptop, headphones and whatever paperwork demands his immediate attention.

Eckart Preu - DON HAMILTON PHOTO
  • Don Hamilton photo
  • Eckart Preu

No plants, no curtains — he has nothing to hide, he says — no storage other than a low sideboard across from his desk. On it are stacks representing current projects: Jean Sibelius' Tone Poems, Brahms' Concerti, the "How to Train Your Dragon" score for an October tribute to Harry Potter, one of many innovative events Preu created during his Spokane tenure.

On the walls are his eldest daughter's framed pencil drawing of the family, a photo of him from the back, dressed in his black tuxedo; in his hands, a baton. And there are mementos from various conducting jobs: Connecticut, Virginia, New York, Paris and numerous international gigs from Israel to New Zealand.

"Whenever I look up, I want to see something I like," says Preu.

Two artworks grab attention: a large print of the iconic "Transcend the Bullshit," by Spokane artist Harold Balazs, on the wall behind and above Preu's head; and a mixed-media painting in front of his desk. An art teacher Preu knew as a boy growing up in East Germany did the painting of his father, its vibrant color palette in contrast to the man's stern countenance.

"Without my dad, I would not do music," explains Preu.

Some of his father's paintings are elsewhere in the house, which Preu and his wife Neeley are still settling into. A pile of framed items tucked into the corner of Preu's office may or may not end up on the wall; however, his life, as represented by the photos, artwork and other items judiciously placed on the walls of his workspace, is already plenty full.

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