Mission: to seek and share inspiration

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If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! February 2016


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Folks often ask me “when you’re not conducting the Pops, what else are you doing?” Besides my duties as Cincinnati’s “Pops Guy,” I am also the Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, leading a dozen classical concerts as well as the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and recently took on the position of Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic. There are also frequent guest conducting engagements, as well as my own kids’ concerts, plays and recitals (I happily just attend those!) that fill out the rest of the calendar. When I’m home I like to take a little extra time to visit neighborhoods around the Queen City, working with music students, community ensembles and other “band geeks” like myself, encouraging the vibrant musical scene happening outside of Music Hall.

Recently we’ve begun an extended collaboration with the music programs of Indian Hill, Mariemont and Madiera. The students from each school work on the same pieces of music throughout the winter semester and in spring join together for a MASSIVE concert involving 250 kids. I, along with our junior conducting staff and several of our Pops musicians, work with the students throughout the winter months, rehearsing and fine-tuning as they prepare for a concert that I lead in April. What’s best about this project is the opportunity to develop more in-depth musical relationships with the young musicians, and reinforce the outstanding work that their orchestra and band directors deliver every day of the school year.

February is also the time we start gearing up for our annual Classical Roots concert on April 29. The members of the Classical Roots Community Mass Choir begin the work of learning all the music for our program and our young Nouveau Chamber Players will be wood-shedding some remarkable repertoire that will tell extraordinary stories through music. Every detail of the program comes together in a creative collaboration with our partner churches, Clergy Advisory Committee, and the community at large.

When people talk about the “musical riches” in our region, it’s not just the Pops, CSO, May Festival, Opera, etc.; I believe it’s also the thousands of dedicated and talented amateur singers, musicians, bands and orchestras that help create beauty all around us. I am thrilled to help encourage and sustain these great musical traditions that make the Queen City such an extraordinary place to live.

Cheers!

JMR