The Music Plays On

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I have always felt that an artist’s bio, particularly one that offers nothing but past accolades, is a wasted opportunity to connect with those in the audience who are looking inside the program for something of interest to read. While I can’t guarantee that what you will now see in this space will change your life, I do hope that it will offer a little insight into why I’ve chosen the music that you will hear at this concert.

I first heard Anna Clyne’s Masquerade only a year ago, performed by the San Francisco Symphony with Christian Macelaru conducting, who is the new music director of the Cabrillo Festival in Santa Cruz, California, and of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, Germany. What immediately struck me upon hearing Masquerade was the excitement and high energy that Anna’s music was able to create, as well as the clear imagery that I was experiencing while listening to it. I felt like I was at an over-the-top, decadent, masquerade ball in the court of Louis XIV! I knew by the time Masquerade had ended that I had to conduct it!

A concerto is often just a vehicle for a soloist to shine. And while the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto is considered to be the most often performed and a virtuosic showpiece, I always enjoy conducting it because Tchaikovsky gives the orchestra so much to do! Just think of the beautiful beginning, with its lovely lilting melody played by the violin section. It’s one of the most beautiful and exciting openings Tchaikovsky ever composed and this concerto seemed to me to be the perfect fit in introducing our world-class soloist, Francesca Dego.

Aside from the fact that Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the most popular orchestral pieces performed, it is a piece that is very close to my heart. This was the piece with which I made my last-minute debut with the San Francisco Symphony, having never conducted it before in my life! It was a moment in time that I’ll never forget, but what I remember most was the impact that this incredible piece, so ingeniously orchestrated by Ravel, has on the audience. The entire orchestra shines because Ravel utilizes everything on stage with equal measure, from the piccolo to the tuba!