(Photo Courtesy Jeremy Nicholson, Flickr)

Independence Day


Preparations are in full swing for the Newport Symphony’s July programs.  I can tell from my email conversations with Bela Balogh that Three Leg Torso (July 3) is going to be a great time.  With a mix drawn from chamber music, klezmer, Gypsy and Latin, it’s probably going to be the hippest thing the NSO has ever done.

July 4 is one of the favorite occasions of my musical year. This concert is free, and draws the largest audience for any musical event on the Oregon coast all year.  Everyone who comes is ready to have a good time, so the mood in the crowd is fantastic. Early on in Newport, I began to make tribute to those who served, or have served, in the Armed Forces with a medley of the services’ songs.  This has become indispensible to our audience, many of whom tell me that it is what draws them to the concert.  Last year we also paid tribute to the region’s lost fishermen with a piece by Jeff Rona called “On the open Sea.” The response was so overwhelming that even before we’d finished playing the music last year we knew this would become a fixture on this program. And so it is.

And on the 5th, we’re expecting another big success with radio star Edmund Stone and a program of film music (and classical music used in film.)  It’s going to be a great week for music in Newport!


Tuscaloosa is preparing for July 4 as well. Our charismatic assistant conductor Demondrae Thurman will be on the podium again for what will be another great Independence Day event at the amphitheater.


At the Ballet we’re in the heart of the off-season.  This might appear to be a quiet time of year, since there aren’t performances, but much of the important work gets done during this period. Now we’re preparing for the fall production of La Sylphide. As is often the case we are trying to make a set of material for the orchestra match the sequence and cuts that the ballet folks want to present. Cyndi Mancinelli, a violinist in the orchestra, is a great help in this kind of work. Together, we have recently spent a lot of time with a recording that the producer of the ballet has stitched together, and a borrowed set of parts for another company’s production, figuring out how to slice and dice the music for ours. One challenge is that we can’t start from a fresh set of parts, as Lovenskiold’s score has been out of print for decades!