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Conductor Ming Luke will lead LCSO in first in-person concert since early 2020

Leora Zeitlin

When Ming Luke learned he would conduct the first concert of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra since the pandemic hit, he wanted to play music that evoked new beginnings. Next week, he’ll lead the orchestra in works that do just that: the “Reformation” Symphony by Felix Mendelssohn and “The Firebird Suite” by Igor Stravinsky.

“Those are both pieces that signify coming back and rebirth,” Luke said in this Zoom interview with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin. “The Firebird is the legend of the phoenix which rises from the ashes. And I think we’ve been all missing live concert music with orchestra, and those are two very powerful pieces, along with the ‘Egmont Overture’ of Beethoven, which again, starts off dark but is very triumphant at the end.”

Luke has garnered high praise for his conducting, his innovative educational programs, and his strong interest in working with dance companies. He is currently Principal Guest Conductor for the San Francisco Ballet, Principal Conductor for the Nashville Ballet, Music Director of the Merced Symphony, Founder and Program Director of Festival Napa Valley, and holds several other positions as well. He will be the first of four guest conductors who will conduct the LCSO this year as the orchestra seeks a new permanent conductor.

Listen here for his thoughts on educating people of all ages as to what is “at the heart of the music”; how the Reformation Symphony illustrates the idea of “coming back together” from the very first note; the colorful music of the Firebird and its “spectacular ending”; and even an impassioned explication of the ending of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “I just like getting people excited about music,” he said.

Concerts are Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 3 at 2:00 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall. All attendees must be masked in the NMSU Music Building.

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