Schumann’s heartbreaking Second one of Lewis’ favorites

Conducting Electricity, Program Spotlight, Courtney Lewis

When I’m asked the impossible question, “What’s your favorite symphony”, I usually refuse to answer, but inside my head a voice always cries out: Schumann’s Second! Robert Schumann (1810-1856) was the archetypal Romantic: he loved poetry as much as music, couldn’t decide whether to be a musician or a writer, married another artist (the great pianist Clara Wieck), struggled with … Read More

Finding strength in classical music

Conducting Electricity, Courtney Lewis

The Jacksonville Symphony’s Courtney Lewis says that, in trying times like these, we can all find strength and solace in the works of the masters. A friend recently asked me what symphonic music I think feels of the moment, what music feels like now, as we adjust to a new normal of social distancing and uncertainty. I often use music … Read More

Symphony in 60 offers classical music, an hour at a time

Courtney Lewis

Symphony in 60 is one of my favorite Jacksonville Symphony concert series. It’s a simple idea: Happy hour at 5:30, an hour-long concert at 6:30, and then an opportunity to meet the musicians and conductor over a drink. This season we’re expanding the series from three concerts to six. It’s really exciting to see the many recent developments in our … Read More

Beethoven front and center in Symphony season

Courtney Lewis

After a summer guest conducting in Aspen and Minnesota, I’m back in Jacksonville and it’s time to get ready for our upcoming season. This year is a series of celebrations, as the Jacksonville Symphony turns 70, Ludwig van Beethoven reaches an ever-youthful 250, and we perform thrilling concerts not just at home, but also at the Kennedy Center in Washington, … Read More

Finding inspiration in Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’

Courtney Lewis

This summer I’ve been writing about the music I love beyond the classical bubble. Since its release in April 2016, I’ve been mildly obsessed with one album: Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’. ‘Lemonade’ is a deeply personal testament describing Queen Bey’s discovery that her husband – the rapper Jay-Z – had been unfaithful. During its twelve songs we accompany Beyoncé on her journey … Read More

Finding inspiration in ‘A Love Supreme’

Courtney Lewis

I often like to ask classical musicians what they listen to in order to relax. The answer is rarely our own music; stepping outside the classical world allows our critical facilities to switch off, which is blessed relief. My after-work tastes are hip hop, R&B, house, pop and a relatively small amount of jazz. Over the past few weeks I’ve … Read More

Maestro’s musical taste shaped by dad

Courtney Lewis

I’m often asked about the music I listen to outside work. When I was announced as music director of the Jacksonville Symphony five years ago, there were plenty of embarrassing headlines such as “Conductor likes Britney and Beethoven.” People tend to think that there is something amusing or even faintly scandalous about a classical musician enjoying other music. We musicians … Read More

Voice adds depth to symphony performances

Courtney Lewis

Strangely enough for an orchestra, we’ve heard a lot of the human voice recently at the Jacksonville Symphony. The Christmas season began with “Messiah,” and in January we welcomed a cast from around the country for Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” Last weekend we performed Maurice Ravel’s sensuous ballet, “Daphnis et Chloé,” complete with an enormous chorus that sang no words, … Read More