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Don Giovanni remains timeless, centuries later

Courtney Lewis

Mozart described his masterpiece Don Giovanni as an opera buffa: a comedy. Yet the work bristles with the political issues of the day, see-sawing between farce and deep seriousness. The Don Juan myth first appeared in European literature in 1630, when Tirso de Molina published The Trickster of Seville, a tale of an irresistibly handsome aristocrat who spends his days … Read More

Holidays are the time for waltzes

Courtney Lewis

The air is a getting crisper this week, and as we finish off the Thanksgiving turkey and begin to think about December, I’m reminded of one of my favourite holiday traditions. Every New Year’s Eve and Day the Vienna Philharmonic performs a concert of waltzes and polkas in the beautiful Grosser Saal of the Musikverein. The New Year’s Day concert … Read More

Pictures at an Exhibition: About Victor Hartmann

Matthew Patterson

Victor Alexandrovitch Hartmann was born April 23rd, 1834, in St. Petersburg. Both his parents died before he was four years old, and he was brought up by an aunt, Luisa Ivanovna Gemilian, wife of a well-known St. Petersburg architect and a former lady-in-waiting to the tsarina. Through the influence of Mme. Gemilian, Hartmann was admitted at the age of twelve … Read More

Why is That Trombone So Small?

Christopher Bassett

When the Jacksonville Symphony plays music from the Classical and Early Romantic periods the trombone section often scales our instruments down to better blend with a smaller orchestra. As opposed to what we usually play – two large tenor trombones with valves and a large bass trombone with two valves – we use an alto trombone, a “straight,” or, valve-less … Read More

Where Will The Music Take You?

Robert Massey

At an early age, I discovered the transformative power of music. Growing up in a military household, we moved around quite often and, unfortunately, most of those transitions were very difficult. Starting a new life in a strange city every three years was fraught with anxiety. My anchor through all of this was music. I learned to play the trumpet … Read More

My Heros: Rattle, Abbado and Davis

Courtney Lewis

During our formative years, musicians are molded by many influences. Obviously our teachers hold enormous sway, taking on the role of musical parents by establishing the basics of instrumental technique while introducing repertoire at the right time. But like any artist we are often influenced just as much, if not more, by professionals, we may not know. The people we … Read More

A Massive Hope for the Future: Elgar’s First Symphony

Courtney Lewis

Next weekend we perform a masterpiece that is among those closest to my heart, Edward Elgar’s First Symphony. Its premiere in 1908 was probably the greatest success of Elgar’s career. His best friend and publisher, August Jaeger, described the scene at the first London performance: “I never in all my experience saw the like. The hall was packed…the atmosphere was electric…after … Read More

A Letter from London (and Nielsen 4)

Courtney Lewis

Yesterday I arrived in damp and blustery London, which, despite the gloom and ghastly weather is full of the irrepressible cheer of Christmastime. There is something about dusk descending at 4 pm – or even of being soaked by the spray of a passing double-decker bus whilst walking to a carol service – that makes the Yuletide spirit all the … Read More

Concert Weeks are Jam-Packed!

Courtney Lewis

When newcomers attend the Symphony they often ask me, “How many weeks ago did you start rehearsing for the concert?” The answer usually elicits a look of astonishment, especially if the performance is on a Thursday: “We started on Tuesday morning!” A Masterworks concert is preceded by four or five rehearsals, all within a single week. The musicians’ schedules are … Read More

White-Hot Conviction Propels Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony

Courtney Lewis

Last year I made the decision to take a break from conducting over the summer of 2017. The previous few seasons had been exhausting as I flew constantly back and forth between New York, Jacksonville and other cities. A conductor’s primary task is to inspire orchestras and I was aware that the well from which such inspiration is drawn was … Read More