Celebrating The Past While Looking To The Future

It’s been 5 months since I began working as concertmaster with Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Getting to know the culture of the city and the people has been enlightening on several levels. Wichita is a unique city in that its history is something people are extremely proud of, and its future is something they are equally proud. From the early days of Wichita where Wyatt Earp and the Chisholm Trail helped build a mythology of the Wild West, to the 20th century where names like Stearman, Beechcraft, and Cessna helped create the “Air … Continue Reading



Pairing food and drink with music has always been an important and fun metaphor for me. Since the creation of The Higdon cocktail, a drinkable metaphor offering a new way approach Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, many people have been asking: will there be a Stephenson cocktail. The concerto by Jim Stephenson, Tributes, could have a cocktail created for it, but I wanted to go a different route this time around. And this idea came from sitting in a restaurant in Chicago with my collaborative pianist, Tim Hinck, who flew up to perform … Continue Reading

No Conductor, No Problem Part 4: Seeking Haydn Amongst Friends

No Conductor, No Problem Part 4: Seeking Haydn Amongst Friends

Honestly, I started off not caring about Haydn’s 31st Symphony. But studying and preparing the work during the last several months for the upcoming conductor-less concert has been an unexpectedly exciting journey. Before I collected and geeked out over the marked parts from Grand Teton Music Festival (GTMF) library, before I talked with Crozet Duplantier, music librarian, before I listened to the experiences and advice of Haydn expert and conductor, Nic McGegan, I was lukewarm on the work. After the initial conversations about the piece I felt a new excitement for the … Continue Reading

No Conductor No Problem Navigating A Conductor-Less Concert Part 1

No Conductor, No Problem: Navigating A Conductor-Less Concert, Part 1

There are no how-to or step-by-step instructional checklists for preparing a conductor-less concert on Wikihow, eHow, Pinterest, or Wikipedia. But generally concertmasters who find themselves in the position of leading a concert without conductor have some kind of prior experience of leading from the concertmaster chair. This experience generally comes from a variety of chamber music experiences or previous conductor-less concerts. So when planning an upcoming conductor-less concert for my orchestra in Chattanooga, it occurred to me that it might be interesting for non-musicians to know the extent of preparation that goes … Continue Reading

The Next Concerto is

The Next Concerto is…

As of right now, the next concerto I play with my orchestra is top secret. That is until the Chattanooga Symphony’s 2016-17 concert season is announced. I’ve been having a lot of fun dropping hints on Facebook and Twitter about which concerto it is though. But I figured it would be interesting to share how and why I picked this concerto. Since I began my tenure with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, I’d made it clear that I wanted to perform concertos by living American composers. Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto was the … Continue Reading