“If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After too many gray-black days and  too frequent windshield ice-scraping, I feel like I’m about to get skewered in a Game of Thrones battle. This final, most welcome shift of seasons has brought me–and I hope, you as well–back to life. Spring and Love are where we should spend the bulk of our time on earth.

On this concert, I am joining with the KCCO and its fine musicians to share with you things I love about music, music-making and the people involved with the entire social event:

New music, living composer–female/String section sound

It’s always especially exciting to rehearse and perform music by a living, breathing composer. We are too unaccustomed to the occurrence as “classical” musicians and listeners, partially due to the inaccessible nature of composers who wish to write “real” or “serious” music.

Not true for American composer Dorothy Chang. While her music is clearly and rigorously crafted, she repeatedly finds inspiration from daily life, as well as folk instrument sounds from her cultural and genetic heritage. This gives her music, I believe, a sense of connection to our thoughts, experiences and emotions. I heartily encourage you to learn more about her and hear more of her music on her website and view an informative short interview with her on YouTube.

Virtuosities reminds me in a general sense to the great Bernard Herrmann film scores, North by Northwest in particular. Plenty of rich dissonance, but appropriately evocative, and by turns, like a Herrmann score–virtuosic.

As a pianist and former brass player, I remain entranced by the sound a group of string players make together. Perhaps it’s that rosined horsehair drawn back and forth across strings braced over a wooden box produces a sound which awakens a primal memory in me. Maybe I just like it because I never got to take one in hand and study it with a teacher. No matter–it’s a very special, emotion-rich sound.

Breakout vocal talent

Discovering and presenting a young artist with exceptional gifts at the sunrise of their professional visibility is a pleasure unlike no other, a truly “spring” event I have enjoyed throughout my career. It took me about 15 seconds of listening to become excited about this young man, Josh Lovell, and I hope you will feel that as well. He has already been identified and trained in the leading opera professional young artist programs, and I couldn’t resist programming the Rossini Semiramide aria he offered. This is a dramatic aria (and role) only attempted by great tenor specialists like Rockwell Blake, Lawrence Brownlee and Juan Diego Flórez. Very, very few operatic tenors can handle the demanding coloratura and the high Ds. Josh is one of them. You will be able to say “I heard him live, when he was just starting his career.”

Humor in music

In the world of improbable, ludicrous and hilarious musical characterizations of dramatic events, Gioacchino Rossini’s compositions remain so fundamentally affixed in our collective conscious that even unclassical ears recognize the style. Its brand is on par with Kleenex®, Frisbee® , and Apple®. Rossini’s heirs, alas, no longer can reap the financial rewards from his evergreen success over the last 150+ years, due to copyright expiration. But that legal freedom has allowed his joyful sounds to freely proliferate. The La scala di seta (The Silk Ladder) overture is another Rossini romp, and a tour de force for the woodwinds.


Nothing really needs to be said about Mozart. He’s at least a third of the spinal column of any classical musician’s training, and slides into a listener’s ear canal with a comfortable familiarity like our friend Rossini.

I’ve always been drawn to his 40th, probably because I love how he can draw such an unanticipated kaleidoscope of emotions from a minor tonality. For a composer, that’s mastery of craft as well as artistic inspiration. May we be blessed by more composers with resources in both categories.

Leave a Comment