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Conductor Daniel Cho to lead the LCSO in this weekend’s concerts

Conductor Daniel Cho in the KRWG studios
Leora Zeitlin
Conductor Daniel Cho in the KRWG studios

Daniel Cho was a reluctant violin student in middle school in California when he joined the Napa Valley Youth Symphony and had a pivotal moment. Ming Luke – now the conductor of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra – was the conductor of the youth ensemble, and one day while playing in the ensemble, Cho realized, “This is the best thing ever.” He approached Luke who began to coach him, and Cho went on to earn music degrees in violin performance as well as two masters degrees in conducting, one for wind ensemble and one for orchestra. “The foundation of my conducting life was really laid by Ming Luke,” Cho said in this interview with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin.

When Luke had to cancel his own appearances with the LCSO this weekend, he called Cho to ask him to be the guest conductor instead. “I was so honored that he called me. He said amazing things about this orchestra and this community.” Cho is now the assistant conductor of the Alabama Symphony, as well as its youth orchestra. He will lead the LCSO in the “Hebrides Overture,” by Felix Mendelssohn, “La Mer,” by Claude Debussy, and “The Moldau,” by Bedrich Smetana. “The Moldau” was “one of the pieces I actually played under Ming Luke in my youth orchestra when I was a kid,” Cho recalled. “And so when he told me this was part of the program, I had a kind of full-circle moment.” The orchestra will also perform a short work by New Mexico-based composer Michael Mauldin in a “side-by-side” with members of the Las Cruces Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Listen to the full interview for a wide-ranging conversation about Cho’s background, nationalism in music, and the individual pieces on the program.

Musical clips in the interview come from:

1.) “Dawn at San Juan Mesa,” by Michael Mauldin , performed by the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (“Enchanted Land” CD, by Michael Mauldin);

2.) “Moldau,” by Bedrich Smetana, performed by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Zdenek Macal conducting (Telarc #80327);

3.) “Hebrides Overture,” by Felix Mendelssohn, performed by the New York Philharmoni, Leonard Bernstein conducting (Sony Classics #61843);

4.) “Jeux de Vagues,” from “La Mer,” by Claude Debussy, performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi conducting (Telarc #80617).