For the first time in three years, Symphoria has a music director.
This Saturday, Lawrence Loh will take the stage with Symphoria as its inaugural Music Director, in a move which has been a long time coming. For the past two full seasons, Symphoria has been subsisting on a steady diet of guest conductors. While the guest conductors I worked with all performed admirably, there are certain things which only a music director can do effectively.
The first thing that longtime concert goers in Syracuse might notice is the placement of the violas. After many years on the outside of the orchestra, the violas have swapped places with the cellos, reverting to the more conventional seating. This was something which was experimented with when Maesteo Loh guest conducted a Casual Concert last season. The move was generally liked amongst the strings, and now it appears permanent. This sort of formation switch is rarely attempted by guest conductors, as the risk of creating a cacophony in an unknown environment with an unfamiliar ensemble usually outweighs the potential benefits.
Maestro Loh is being bolder in his musical choices as well, starting with the programming for tomorrow evening’s concert. While Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique is one of the greatest romantic era works in any medium, there are also extended stretches which are meant to sound bewildering, grotesque, or otherworldly. Kicking the season off with a Beethoven symphony, or Brahms concerto might have been safer, but this choice gives the orchestra the opportunity to shine brighter. The bowing choices which Maestro Loh is impressing upon the strings highlight Berlioz’s exotic colors.
After two years in the musical wilderness, the orchestra is excited to finally have someone on the podium for classical concerts to do more than conduct. Together with Principal Pops Conductor Sean O’Loughlin, Lawrence Loh will look to lead the orchestra to its most exciting season yet!