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A tribute to a living, long-lasting musical icon
Maestro Gary Caldwell grew up in a musical family and from a young age learned to appreciate music from his parents. His mother, a gifted musician and pianist, taught him piano, and his father played trumpet in the Marine Corps Pacific base bands during World War II. Through this exposure, Caldwell grew to love classical, orchestral and band music, and developed a desire to be involved in ensembles, working with other musicians.
Caldwell says, “I recognized early the great musical influence and opportunities from my parents and numerous teachers from my days at high school, Dixie College (now Dixie State University), Brigham Young University, and Northern Arizona University.”
He never fails to mention the support his family has been, especially the inspiration of his wife Shelley, herself a masterful musician—and their four children.
Dixie State University served as his career home for 37 years, during which time he conducted the Dixie State University Symphony Band and Theater Orchestra, and also taught courses in conducting, brass methods and applied trumpet. Caldwell now holds the title “professor emeritus” with the Dixie State music department.
“I have always had a genuine interest and love in passing on my knowledge and experience to the next generation of music educators,” says Caldwell. His personal credo was not simply to lead the musicians, but to join them. Over the years, he has worked with some of the top performers in the world, but considered making a difference in the lives of young music students his greatest privilege and responsibility
Caldwell served as a trumpeter in the Southwest Symphony Orchestra at its inception, and was appointed Maestro of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra in 1989. He directed orchestras for the Tuacahn Amphitheater as well. Caldwell directed and participated in various ensembles throughout his career, and as such, he worked with numerous professional artists. As an educator, Caldwell was actively involved in the development of music in the St. George public schools and frequently served as clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor.
Caldwell retired from DSU at the end of the 2016 academic year, and at the beginning of the Southwest Symphony’s season this year, he passed the baton to Lucas Darger. Earlier this month at the symphony’s concert, the symphony’s board of directors paid tribute to Caldwell on behalf of the symphony musicians and members of the community—a tribute well-deserved, indeed. He received the honor of “conductor emeritus” and is an honorary trustee of the Southwest Symphony.
Caldwell’s favorite works span music’s Classical period of the early 18th century through the Romantic period, and I sense Caldwell feels a personal sense of mission to help others discover the absorbing power of the classics in their lives as well
With compelling passion, Caldwell relates how Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has inspired him through the years. “Beethoven wrote this symphony for all mankind. The theme,” he says, “seems to be man’s triumph over adversity and difficulty.” Truly, music critics have heralded Beethoven as the creator of the “symphonic ideal” with moving themes reflective of a psychological journey where one ends up victorious.
Caldwell credits his love for Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 to his days of studying music history. “Mozart composed this Symphony at the high point of his extraordinary creative power, even writing without a commission, in contrast to so many of his other works.”
Caldwell recalls hearing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto repeatedly when he was but a small boy: “My mother always played it, and I never tired hearing it. Tchaikovsky composed this work in less than a month, and some say it is the most popular violin concerto of all time.”
I predict this deeply dedicated musical icon will serve as a positive force for music’s power and magnificence for a long, long time.
JJ Abernathy is an arts advocate and educator, and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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MANY SOUNDS -
Lamb of God: An Easter Oratorio
Composed by Rob Gardner, this stirring oratorio features events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and blends the singing of LietoVoices! with the music of the Southwest Symphony. A divine, awe-inspiring masterpiece!
7:30 p.m. at the Cox Performing Arts Center.
April 14, 2017
(this concert will not be recorded)
The Resplendent Sound of Captivating Pops with Kurt Bestor
The Symphony offers vibrant, mesmerizing sounds of classical and modern favorites.
7:30 p.m. at the Cox Performing Arts Center.
Friday, May 19, 2017
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