Lockington and Sawyers grew up together, and they've stayed in
touch. Two years ago Lockington recorded an album of Sawyers' music
with the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan. So when Sawyers
mentioned that he was writing a new cello concerto, right after
Lockington acquired a new cello that he loves - Lockington jumped
at the chance to play the concerto himself.
Lockington: "It's deeply melodic. There are a lot of really
sumptuous falling, sighing kinds of melodies. The very beginning,
for example, the opening melody the cello plays, you'll hear almost
immediately its sort of Romantic roots."
Lockington: "And then there's a wonderful development
section in the second movement that perhaps I could just play for
you a little bit."
Lockington has a Master's in cello performance from Yale, he
was assistant principal with the Colorado Symphony for several
years. He says he relishes this opportunity to show what he can do
with his bow, not his baton.
Lockington: "I would say it's a high intermediate level
concerto in terms of difficulty, but really beautifully written.
The orchestration is simple, just a couple of winds in each group,
a couple of horns, a couple of trumpets, timpani. But everything is
used to maximum effect, with the idea that the cello is sort of the
hero of the piece."
So what do members of the orchestra think about seeing their
maestro sitting down playing an instrument, like they do?
Hillebrandt: "I think it brings a kind of authority to his
approach to conducting."
Pianist John Hillebrandt has been with the Modesto Symphony
for 17 years.
Hillebrandt: "He's one of us already, you know, and he
knows what we're going through, and he knows how to rehearse,
because he knows how to practice himself. He's brilliant. A
As Lockington moves from the conductor's podium to a seated
position as the cello soloist, he says he'll still be guiding the
performance - but in a different role, with a different
Lockington: It's such a different discipline. You're
leading in a certain way, but you're responsible for every single
note, as opposed to as a conductor giving gestures that are leading
and directing phrases. I like to think that I'm leading by
When the Modesto Symphony presents the Sawyers Cello Concerto
this Friday and Saturday , Assistant Conductor Ming Luke will wield
the baton; for the concert's second half, David Lockington will
resume his usual role as conductor.