Published on: November 22, 2015
One of the joys of being a Music Director is that you can choose the soloists with which you perform. Over the years, one collects musicians, keeping in mind that “one day, I’d like to do a concerto with her or him.” So, it was with great joy and anticipation, that I awaited the arrival in Peoria of my good friend and fine cellist, Brinton Smith. We have collaborated over the years many times on projects and I have developed quite an admiration and respect for his artistry and intellect. I have followed his successful career all the way from the section of the New York Philharmonic to Principal Cello of the Houston Symphony Orchestra to the Aspen Music Festival. It was equally exciting to have him in our community for an extended period, visiting schools and senior centers and participating in some enjoyable events in our own performance space. I was especially pleased to feel the genuine warmth in the interaction between Brinton and our patrons, and especially over dinner with our generous sponsors, Trudy and Mike Landwirth.
His story is an important one for our young people to hear. On one hand, he was a smart child who excelled in math studies with the support of his parents. On the other hand, he was an aspiring cellist whose parents were told by the “experts” that he lacked the fine motor skills to become an accomplished musician. So much for experts!
The other delight of the week was the program I was performing with the PSO and Brinton. This concert was a blast to conduct! All unique and powerfulmasterpiecesofmusicfrom three great composers. For the orchestra, audience, soloist, and conductor this was the repertoire equivalent of a motivational seminar – up, exciting, and full of bravura. In fact, the definition of that very word described the program perfectly: great technical skill and brilliance shown in a performance –virtuoso, masterly, outstanding, excellent, superb, brilliant, dazzling,expert. The Verdi overture was very well done and I thought the orchestra really conveyed the fiery passion and virtuosity the piece requires. Stravinsky’s Firebird was also performed with aplomb, style, and sophistication. I was so pleased. And then the Dvorak Cello Concerto, the performance possessed all of the nobility, sentiment, passion, and virtuosity I expected from the PSO and the soloist. It was such a fantastic collaboration. And, judging by the audience’s reaction, a success and a triumph.Most importantly, the art form spoke for itself – no gimmicks, no glitz – just masterpieces of orchestral art speaking directly to humanity through excellent live performance. It’s what I live for!
Coming just a few days before Thanksgiving, I was truly thankful for the PSO, our guest artists, our patrons and supporters, and the opportunity to bring such great cultural experiences to Peoria.
George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra