AASO conductor Arie Lipsky tells a similar story. Lipsky made his orchestral debut at age nine, playing flute in the Haifa Symphony in Israel. That day the orchestra played a piece by the nineteenth-century composer Borodin. At the end of the concert, when the conductor brought out the director of the chorus to take a bow, Lipsky turned to his standmate and asked, "Is this Borodin?" Lipsky, a prodigy with very adult musical skills, was still filled with childlike wonder. Today, decades later, he retains both qualities, as well as a passionate commitment to fostering them in children.
When Lipsky arrived as conductor, five years ago, one of his stated goals was to expand the symphony's offerings to young people and families. Bucking the recent trend at many orchestras, where such programming has been cut in response to tight budgets, Lipsky has added concerts.
My daughter still talks about the Beethoven Lives Upstairs show two years ago, when the actors flung hundreds of pages of music manuscripts in the air, and we watched them float down toward us like giant confetti. Recalling the magnificent collage of sound of this terrific orchestra, we still hum snatches of the Minuet in G and "Ode to Joy."