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January 2017

January can be a dull month, but not so this year! Having led 12 performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with the Tulsa Ballet and BalletMet Columbus, I enjoyed a week of travel to see family and friends before ringing in the New Year quietly at home with Barb in Columbus. Early January saw a masterworks concert in Springfield with violist Nogathula Ngwhenyama. Thula and I had a marvelous time with the Cassadesus Concerto in the style of Handel, a piece with baroque vocabulary despite its 20th century derivation. I think such works do have a legitimate place in the repertoire and was delighted to share it alongside the masterpieces of Bach, Lully, and Handel. I often joke that there is nothing more useless than a conductor on a baroque program, as the real work is done weeks in advance as we prepare the materials. Baroque composers left so much of the interpretive aspects of music (dynamics, phrasings, even tempi in some cases) up to the performer, so many decisions must be made. Preparing thorough and concise materials is always the challenge in such an event, and the key to success, particularly with an orchestra that does not specialize in this style. A series of in-school concerts with the Columbus Symphony was next on the schedule. I have enjoyed designing a program over the years that we take into Columbus City Schools elementary buildings. The full orchestra travels to several schools throughout the year, and the students sing along with the Orchestra. We also invite the beginning string students to play a piece or two with the orchestra. The kids feel like rock stars in front of their peers, and champion the string program that still exists in this urban district. I was able to re-connect with the cast of Disney in Concert Tale as Old as Time with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in late January. It was great to work with these fabulous singers again, and I was quite impressed that the OKC Phil managed to fill three houses (in a 2500 seat venue) for the show. And, a reception with their young professionals group was a fun, energized event. Now I am off to Tulsa and the world premiere of Edwaard Liang’s new ballet, Dorothy and the Prince of OZ. This promises to be a lively experience!