Conductor Christopher Zimmerman introduces viewers to the men and women behind the music

Even though the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s concert hall is closed, and the musicians aren’t able to meet and play due to COVID-19 restrictions, the people behind the noted orchestra are doing what they can to keep the musicians in the spotlight. 

In the midst of its 63rd season, the FSO had to cancel its entire spring season of performances, but it wanted to make sure that it was keeping its audience entertained during the pandemic.

For example, the FSO has been sharing online concerts for free through its series, FSO Brings the Music to You, where viewers can see archival footage of select performances, such as Elgar’s famous “Enigma Variations,” Vaughan Williams’ moving “Lark Ascending” featuring guest violinist Janet Sung, and most recently, Rimsky-Korsakov’s adventure-filled “Scheherazade.” 

Before each of these concerts, Christopher Zimmerman, FSO’s music director and conductor, will introduce the piece and talk about the music’s significance.

“I’ve chosen pieces I think are good performances,” Zimmerman said. “I think perhaps more than ever need music. It’s somewhere to go for solace and just an outlet to deal with this weird stuff that’s going on.”

Starting this week, the FSO is adding a new series called “Behind the Music,” where Zimmerman will talk with musicians in the orchestra about their lives and music careers.

“As you can image, we’re trying to do something where we can, in some way, serve our listeners when you can’t do live concerts,” he said. “I came up with this idea to interest our listeners, subscribers and audience by interviewing players in the orchestra. That’s what we’ll be doing over the next few weeks.”

In the series, Zimmerman talks with the musicians to discern what motivates, inspires, and challenges them in performing with one of the nation’s finest, regional orchestras.

“We’re really just having a chat, talking with the players about their philosophy of music, their background, why they like playing in the orchestra and so forth,” Zimmerman said. “I imagine we’re not the only people doing this, but I don’t know of any others at the moment.” 

While he admitted he is not the most tech-savvy guy, Zimmerman noted most of the interviews have been going well over Zoom.

“It’s a little bit of a crapshoot because sometimes it goes really well, but I think there are times of day when the bandwidth changes and a lot and things get frozen,” he said. “But most of them have been pretty smooth and the videos are edited so viewers see a smooth interview.”

The FSO has approximately 70 members and he’s trying to get a variety of musicians and different instruments represented.

The first interview to go up will be of oboist Trevor Mowry, who also performs with The President’s Own Marine Band and serves as a coach with the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

“They’re a mixture of very young people to some brand-new people from the last couple of years to people who have been playing for a long time,” Zimmerman said. “I’m trying to interview both ends of the spectrum in that respect—experience versus new. And, of course, different instruments. I’ve done, so far, a principal horn player, an oboist, principal trumpet, principal second violin, a couple of violins and principal cello. We’ll do more and not just principal players, just to get a cross section.”

Others coming in the weeks ahead include long-time FSO members Marion Baker, principal cello; Paul Johnson, principal trumpet; Eric Moore, principal french horn; and Cynthia Crumb, violinist. New FSO musicians include Katelyn Lyons Peadon, principal violin II and Melanie Kuperstein, associate principal violin II.

“While concert halls are closed, we want to continue to share our music with the community in the hope of providing entertainment and a welcome sense of peace and comfort during this difficult time,” Zimmerman said. “I’m delighted to take viewers behind the scenes at the FSO. It’s a true privilege to perform with these talented artists, who remain committed to creating the finest possible experiences for our audiences.”

For more information or to watch any of the virtual series, visit FairfaxSymphony.org.

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