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Conductor Trades Baton for Bow To Perform As Soloist with Modesto Symphony



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(Modesto, CA)
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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."

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Lockington: "And then there's a wonderful development section in the second movement that perhaps I could just play for you a little bit."
 
(music)
 
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."
 
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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 brilliant guy."
 
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 mindset.
 
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 example.
 
(music)
 
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.
 
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