The Maestro celebrates his 25th year with RSO

By Anne E. O’KeefeLarsen0915
Rockford Area Arts Council

What better way to celebrate 25 years of dedication to a superior quality symphony orchestra than with a roast. In September the Rockford Symphony Orchestra roasted the Maestro, Steve Larsen at an event at Giovanni’s. This illustrates that Larsen is not only dedicated to excellence, but he is willing to have a bit of fun for the cause.

I had an opportunity to chat with the Maestro recently and hear from him what his earliest inspiration. Larsen states that music was a major source of self-esteem when he was young. He played the trumpet. He was the first one in his family to play an instrument and to have such a passion at a young age. The story about how he turned to conducting was especially interesting. I know I am not alone when I say that I conducted a few elegant pieces myself, albeit, Tchaikovsky on vinyl, without an audience. While in music school, Larsen took the required conducting course and was encouraged by the instructor to consider pursuing it. We are so lucky he was willing to give up the trumpet.

Larsen went on to talk about how a season is put together.

“There has to be balance. You must consider the orchestra size. You have to either match or contrast with the guest artists,” Larsen explained. He went on to say that he considers what the audience wants to hear, what will provide them with a bit of challenge and that the last thing he thinks about is what he wants to do.

Larsen loves the excitement around performing live and the exhilaration that the audience finds.

“It’s like watching a tight rope act, anything can go wrong,” Larsen said.

On Friday, November 6 at 12 p.m., join Steve Larsen for “SoundBites” which has become a tradition for many RSO concert goers, as he conducts an informal and enlightening discussion with the guest artists appearing with the RSO on Classics Series concert, Mozart on Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. He will chat with performers Ben Geller, viola and Noah Geller, violin. The conversations usually last about 60 minutes, but you may come and go as you please. These are an amazing way to truly enhance your understanding of the artist, the piece and the process. SoundBites are held at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See, 5151 Guilford Road, and there is no charge but guests are welcome to order lunch off the menu.

“The troupe is performing with many symphony orchestras and for classical purists it might seem gimmicky, but this show is musically compelling, on top of being a lot of fun.” -Lew Whittington, The Huffington Post, 1/6/15.

RAAC wishes to extend a heartfelt congratulations for the maestro’s 25 years and a thank you, on behalf of the entire regional community that has been moved by his work.

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