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If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! December 2015


If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! - September 2015


Lollipops Family Concerts have been a real favorite of mine since joining the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra 20 years ago as assistant conductor. As a staff conductor, Young People’s concerts and Family concerts are often the first opportunity to lead the orchestra and, believe me, there is no more unforgiving crowd. Kids do not have the traditional “filters” we have developed as adults: when they are engaged and loving what they are experiencing on stage the response is volcanic, but when they hate it, they HATE it, and have no qualms expressing it. No one ever “trains” you to present programs for young people; you jump in and learn “on the job,” and let me tell you, a good sense of humor goes a long way! If you pick the really good stuff for the program, conduct with passion and intensity as you would for any concert, and express the sincere joy and wonderment you felt when you first experienced great orchestral music, concerts for kids can be the most fulfilling and thrilling concerts to conduct.

Our new Associate Conductor, Keitaro Harada makes HIS Pops debut kicking off this year’s Lollipops series on Oct. 31 with “Symphony Spooktacular” and it promises to be an amazing concert experience. EVERYONE (that’s you, too, parents and grandparents!) is invited to come in costume and enjoy the spine-tingling and boisterous music that we all love this time of year. Before ALL of our Lollipops concerts here at Music Hall, we host the “Family Fun Zone,” where kids and families can participate in all kinds of engaging pre-concert activities, including arts & crafts, instrument demonstrations and even the opportunity to write a melody and hear it performed by a musician! I can’t tell you how often folks ask me how to go about selecting an instrument for a son or daughter; the Family Fun Zone is the place. The energy in the room is contagious, and by the time the kids get into Springer Auditorium for the concert, they are ready for the full-on Cincinnati Pops Orchestra experience! For the last 30 years I’ve had the joy of leading family concerts from Carnegie Hall to Victoria Island, and no matter where I go, the thrill of seeing the glowing faces of youngsters after their first live orchestral experience is unforgettable. I think it speaks to the universality of music that these concerts awaken such delight in kids of all ages around the world.

And in other news...Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are two of the most unanimously beloved songwriters of all time, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with them both—separately. A reunion concert, as tantalizing as it may seem, will probably never happen, but AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle are the next best thing. You’ve probably never heard their names before, but they are amazing vocalists and the premier interpreters of S&G’s songbook. One night only, Sunday, Oct. 4, they’ll get the full Pops treatment, in a tribute that will be exquisitely refined and beautifully delivered. Cheers,