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Reno Philharmonic ready to inspire the community
by Cortney Maddock
Sep 09, 2009 | 774 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo/Jeff Dow -
Laura Jackson is the new leader of the Reno Philharmonic.
Courtesy photo/Jeff Dow - Laura Jackson is the new leader of the Reno Philharmonic.
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The Reno Philharmonic will begin the 2009-2010 season with performances on Sunday and Tuesday set to a soundtrack of inspiration that new conductor Laura Jackson hopes will capture the community’s attention.

This will be Jackon’s first season leading the Reno Philharmonic as its conductor and music director. Jackson is replacing Barry Jekowsky who led the orchestra for 10 years.

“This will be my first season, but I have already, since I started in July, brought my family down,” Jackson said. “We had a vacation in Lake Tahoe and went tubing down the Truckee River.”

Jackson, her husband and three stepchildren live in Michigan but she said she feels like she has split residency and was inspired by the beauty she saw in the Truckee Meadows. This inspiration helped Jackson choose the three pieces that will lay the path for the rest of the philharmonic’s season.

“The basis for me for this first concert is inspiration,” Jackson said. “I have chosen three pieces that the composers were inspired by other musicians or places.”

Jackson said that “Capriccio Italien” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was inspired by the celebrations in Rome before the religious observation of Lent.

“I felt a little bit like Tchaikovsky when I came to Reno and saw the people around me,” Jackson said of her visit in February. “Basically I am saying that I am inspired by Reno and the Reno Philharmonic.”

“Symphony No. 1” by Johannes Brahms is deeply inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven, Jackson explained.

“It took (Brahms) almost 14 years to complete his first symphony,” Jackson said, adding that Brahms was nearly intimidated by Beethoven. “He is tipping his hat to the 9th Symphony in the fourth movement.”

The third piece Jackson picked is “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” by Michael Gandolfi, who Jackson said she worked with while she was at the Atlanta Philharmonic.

“Michael is a composer that lives in Boston,” Jackson said. “His is a great talent.”

Jackson explained that the “Garden of Cosmic Speculation” is named after a living garden in Scotland. It is a private garden that the owner has built around the principles of physics. Jackson said Gandolfi had a picture book of the garden and was eventually able to visit it.

The Scottish garden inspired Gandolfi to compose a symphony that is about 70 minutes long, but Jackson said the Reno Philharmonic would only be playing four select movements from it.

“I just find the piece beautiful, fascinating and intelligent,” Jackson said, adding that she hears a slight rock and minimalist influence as well as Johann Sebastian Bach influencing the piece.

Jackson said she is excited for the season to begin and she hopes this season gets the community involved in the arts.

“I hope that this season brings a lot of joy to a lot of people,” Jackson said. “I hope that people feel excited about what we’re doing.”

Before beating out fellow conductors to get the job of Reno Philharmonic conductor and music director, Jackson spent two years as a guest conductor at various orchestras from Atlanta to Detroit, Sacramento to Phoenix and Toronto to Boca Raton. She has also led the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and spent a season with the Bournemouth Symphony in England.

Jackson also was the assistant conductor for the Atlanta Symphony from 2004-2007 where she gained even more experience conducting a variety on concerts including classical performances and youth concerts.

Jackson said she is excited to join the Reno Philharmonic and believes she will help carry on the torch of excellence in the performing arts.

“I saw an organization that wants to do great art and serve its community,” Jackson said of making the decision to lead the Reno Philharmonic. “It is fun and entertaining and adding enrichment to people’s lives.”

Jackson said she wants to continue a tradition of community-enriching art by picking music that is fun and new mixed with familiar and traditional. She said that when she is picking pieces to perform for the season she takes the orchestra’s performance history into account as well as what the audience would like, where the orchestra is located and what the orchestra might like to play.

“When people look at the orchestra’s repertoire I want them to see a combination of new, familiar and different,” Jackson said. “I often talk about how putting a good program together is like making a good meal.”

Jackson hopes her flare for preparing the perfect performance will help bring people to the philharmonic’s concerts.

“The philharmonic is approachable,” Jackson said. “If someone hasn’t been to a classical music concert before, they can come to a performance and not worry.”

This Reno Philharmonic season will include a mix of music meant to intrigue and inspire not only individuals but also the community.

“I just want people to come and check it out,” Jackson said. “Exciting things are happening.”

The Reno Philharmonic will perform on Sunday at 4 p.m. and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets prices start at $28 and go up to $56. Tickets can be purchased at www.renophil.com or by calling 323-6393.
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