A: He's no different now than he was, in the sense that he has a fabulous personality, a tremendous enthusiasm and he's a great musician.
Q: Do you still play?
A: I don't. I think Grant might still play every once in a while. I was in the New York Philharmonic, and after I left, I spent a couple more years playing while I developed my conductor technique, developing connections and beginning my career as a conductor.
I stopped playing when I was 30, and I'm 66 now. That's a lot of years ago.
But I've never stopped dreaming about playing. It's not every night, but maybe once a month, I'll have a trumpet dream that goes back to my time at Julliard or New York.
I still play an instrument. I'm a conductor, but I do play the piano and play that quite regularly, but it's not the same thing as a trumpet. We don't make the sounds ourselves, and I think you do miss creating sound. It's very special and very personal, I think.
Q: As a noted conductor, you lead orchestras that perform the music that Grant Cooper has referred to as the "jewels of western civilization," but do you ever listen to the junk food (pop music)? Any guilty pleasures?
A: (laughs) Not much. I don't listen much. I've always been a great jazz fan and played jazz when I was a youngster. I'm a great music lover and love folk, pop, bluegrass and country-western. I love to hear music from everyone, but I don't have much opportunity -- and basically, when music is your life and you're immersed in it, you try to do a lot of other things aside from music.
I play tennis, read books and spend time with my family, which I think is healthy. I like junk food -- pop music -- I just don't have much opportunity to listen as much as I'd like.
Q: You built a successful symphony program in Seattle, where you were conductor for 16 years. What sort of advice would you give to our symphony, which is located in a small city in a very rural state?
A: West Virginia is small compared to California. Charleston is small compared to New York, but that doesn't make it a less artistically vibrant city. Our job is to bring the orchestra into the community, make the music part of the fabric of life.
Everybody knows about the positive effect music education has on kids. If you study music in high school, you're five times likely to graduate than if you don't. That's astounding, and it's extraordinary what this great music can do.
The orchestra is the center post of culture in any city, and while we can't replace music education in the schools, we can be support for those teachers.Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.