West Virginia Symphony Orchestra conductor Maurice Cohn acknowledged that he maybe wasnāt first in line when singer Judy Collins released any of her big records.
The 29-year-old wasnāt around when āWildflowers,ā āWho Knows Where The Time Goes,ā or āJudith,ā which featured the singerās best known hit, āSend in the Clowns,ā were released.
āNevertheless, Iām a huge fan,ā he said, and he is looking forward to the symphonyās show with āMountain Stage,ā which will include a guest appearance by Collins.
The show is going to be a lot different than the usual classical concert, but Cohn said he and the symphony can handle it.
āItās going to be a huge amount of fun ā and also a great way to feature the real variety of music styles that are present in the orchestra,ā he said.
The musicians in the symphony are typically best known for their work with orchestras, but itās not all they do.
āWe have members of the orchestra who play all kinds of music,ā Cohn said. āDavid Porter, our principal trumpet, who is just incredible, plays all kinds of jazz, folk ā just tons of stuff.ā
Thereās a lot of range to show off and sure, pairing the eclectic styles that make up a āMountain Stageā taping with the symphony would create some interesting results.
Cohn didnāt know what theyād get, but he was convinced it would be magical.
The next few weeks will be a bit of a whirlwind for the freshman conductor and music director for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Along with leading the orchestra through the āMountain Stageā show, Cohn will also be at the podium for āSounds of the Seasonā Dec. 1 at Carnegie Hall and Dec. 2 at the Clay Center.
Heās also conducting the symphony for its annual collaboration with ĀŅĀ×ÄŚÉä Ballet for āThe Nutcrackerā on Dec. 8 and 9.
āSounds of the Seasonā is a crowd pleaser and full of holiday favorites.
The ballet is another challenge. Itās not just working with an orchestra. Itās working with dancers.
āBallet is a fascinating thing,ā he said. āYou know, I love the connection. There are so many moving parts. I mean, figuratively and literally. Itās hard to describe, but thereās a kind of magic when youāre trying to do something that is really difficult, and you have to make a lot of very small, technical decisions in order to get it right.ā
Cohn said the trick is to keep adjusting until you find a groove, and then everything just lines up.
He is looking forward to all of it, plus whatever else might come up.
By now, Cohn has been with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra for about six months. He divides his time between ĀŅĀ×ÄŚÉä and Dallas.
There has been a lot of back and forth, but his experiences in West Virginia have been good. Heās had a chance to explore the state some, take in the scenery and visit the new national park.
āItās just so amazing,ā he said. āIāve done that and taken a few scenic drives.ā
The state is very beautiful, Cohn said.
And the people have been good to him and to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
āJust the depth and number of people in the community who care about the symphony has been so affirming,ā he said.
So many people work behind the scenes to put everything together. So much effort and energy go into creating the community. The conductor called it inspiring.
Cohnās first season with the symphony was planned ahead of when he even interviewed for the job. Heās been working on his program almost since the day he started. Cohn said it was coming together.
āOne of the reasons we start so early is that when it comes to guest soloists, youāre hoping to bring out an audience,ā he said.
Performers of renown draw a crowd.
āBut theyāre all over the place,ā he said. āTheyāre with different ensembles and playing with other orchestras and stuff.ā
So, itās juggling a lot of schedules to find matches of time, place and music.
āWe got a really good early start on that process,ā Cohn said.
And many of the potential guest soloists have responded positively. Much of that, he thought, was because of the reputation of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Musicians want to perform with them.
Cohn said, āIām very pleased with how thatās going.ā
He is in a good place. The symphony is in a good place, and he looks forward to the upcoming year.