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

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

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