LBSO Salutes Veteran’s Day With Guest Conductor Edward Cumming

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Guest Conductor Edward Cumming. Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Guest Conductor Edward Cumming. Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

On Saturday, November 14, at 8:00 p.m., in the Terrace Theater of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center (300 E. Ocean Blvd.), the Long Beach Symphony salutes Veteran’s Day with a program of 20th century American music led by inspirational guest conductor, Edward Cumming.

Cumming is not a newcomer to the podium of the Long Beach Symphony. Having made his debut here last May with a thrilling performance of works by Mendelssohn, David and Beethoven that was described by one reviewer as “spot-on,” he was invited back this season to lend his signature touch to a program that includes Bernstein, Gerschwin and works by two living American composers, Lowell Liebermann and Frank Ticheli.

The concert opens with Bernstein’s short, lively Candide Overture, which will be followed by Lowell Liebermann’s Concerto for flute and orchestra featuring the Symphony’s principal flutist, Heather Clark, one of Los Angeles’ most sought after flute players whose orchestral resume includes principal positions with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra.

For those not familiar with Liebermann’s works, Maestro Cumming shares some insights: “Lowell’s music is unusual in that it sounds fresh and new, but at heart he is a conservative, who likes to write music that his audiences will want to hear more than once. Liebermann is a melodist at heart, and the tunes throughout his Flute concerto are singable … he’s that good.”  Commissioned in 1991 by legendary flutist James Galway, it is a work that Ms. Clark counts as “one of the most significant and popular among flutists.”

Following intermission, audiences will be captivated by the haunting violin passage of Radiant Voices by living composer Frank Ticheli, who will be in attendance at the concert. This percussive and brassy work was written in 1993 to be a light in the darkness during the Los Angeles riots of 1992.

The concert concludes with one of the most famous American compositions, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, one of the few works that crosses the boundary of the classical and pops realms. This jazz-influenced symphonic poem from 1928 evokes Gershwin’s memories of his time spent in Paris during the 1920s.

“It’s the only piece I know that is actually scored for car horns,” says Cumming. Commenting further on the work’s idiosyncrasies, he queries, “how often do you get to hear saxophones play in an orchestra!?”

For additional concert insights, ticket holders are invited to attend a pre-concert talk at 7 pm hosted by Maestro Cumming, flutist Heather Clark and composer Frank Ticheli.  These artists will also conduct a post-concert, town-hall-style conversation. Lobby music will be provided by musicians from the Bob Cole Conservatory University String Quartet.

During his week-long stay in Long Beach, Dr. Cumming will, among other activities, hold a masterclass for LBUSD high school music students. Guest conductor Edward Cumming is Director of Orchestral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at the Hartt School. For nine years, he was Music Director of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, hailed for its remarkable artistic growth during his tenure. He has taught at colleges all over the country and has conducted ensembles throughout the United States, Asia, South America, and Israel. At a time when many orchestras are struggling to grow their audiences, Dr. Cumming distinguishes himself by connecting closely with his audiences, regularly attracting hundreds of people to arrive early for his pre-concert talks.

Commenting on the evening’s program, Symphony Executive Director, Kelly Ruggirello, said, “Not only are Gershwin and Bernstein popular composers with our audience, they always feature the outstanding talents within our orchestra. Likewise, it is such a pleasure to showcase living, local American composers such as Frank Ticheli, whose music is accessible and exciting.”

The Symphony’s Classical Concert Series is sponsored by Lexus.  Tickets start at $20. Offering a 50% off discount to U.S. Military Veterans for both November 14 and December 19 concerts on VetTix.org in honor of Veteran’s Day.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Symphony’s website at www.longbeachsymphony.org or call 562-436-3203.

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