SPRINGFIELD — Similar to several other community staples, the soothing sounds of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra have gone on hiatus for the past two years due to the pandemic. Acting Director General Paul Lambert is delighted that the symphony is opening its doors for a new slate of concerts for the 2022-2023 season.
Back from the coronavirus pandemic
Lambert, the former vice president of entrenchment services and community engagement at the Basketball Hall of Fame, assumed leadership of the organization in January. The Executive Director brings a deep passion for the arts to the position, having subscribed to the orchestra for the past 20 years while also working in the past as Director of The Cape Playhouse for seven years.
“I grew up in the performing arts, so for me it’s come full circle in my career…it’s important to maintain cultural institutions and allow them to thrive,” Lambert said in an interview with Reminder. Publishing.
During his first months as executive director, Lambert navigated the rise of the omicron variant and the ongoing labor disputes between the musicians of the symphony and the organization. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to create ever-changing circumstances, Lambert said the organization is making continued progress toward bringing the Springfield Symphony Orchestra back.
“I feel like people are hungry to celebrate and have a wonderful time together… There’s something very special about living in person, it’s a wonderful collective experience,” said Lambert, who also pointed out that the health and safety protocols remain “paramount” in thinking about the return of the orchestra.
The interim executive director shared his hopes that the orchestra’s return will serve as another cog in revitalizing the city’s economy, with the concerts likely enticing people to eat and shop downtown. He also envisions the organization functioning as a promoter of musical and artistic endeavors throughout the Western Mass.
Lambert said he and his team continue to plan for the remainder of the 2022-23 concert season in an “ongoing process.”
Lambert also remains aware of the challenges facing modern orchestral ensembles, with mainstream audiences enjoying classical music and continuing to age. “The symphonies have had challenges over the past 10 years, traditional audiences are aging…it is extremely important that we bring in a young and diverse audience. The Springfield Symphony Orchestra must become a 21st century organization,” Lambert said.
The Springfield Symphony Orchestra marks its return with two spring concerts: “Of Heroes and Poets” on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. and “Dances of Spring” on May 13 at 7:30 p.m. Both concerts feature the return of bandleader Mark Russell. Smith, who was previously music director and conductor of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.
“Of Heroes and Poets” welcomes the talents of guest cellist Thomas Mesa. As a member of the Detroit Sphinx, an organization promoting the representation of black and Latino artists in classical music, Mesa will perform Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto.
“He’s a remarkable talent,” Lambert said. “Of Heroes and Poets” will also feature the work of William Grant Still, a composer inspired by the rhythmic dance music of Panama, as well as Robert Schumann’s Second Symphony.
“Dances of Spring” will feature American composer Michael Abels’ orchestration Liquify alongside two dance music offerings from composers Gabriela Lena Frank and Aaron Copland. The concert ends with the first symphony of Johannes Brahms, which represents a personal resonance for Lambert because his father adored the offerings of Brahms.
With both shows, Lambert aspires to represent the fusion of classical and modern sensibilities of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. He also hopes audiences enjoy his long-awaited return to Symphony Hall.
“Let’s celebrate together and listen to beautiful music,” Lambert said.
Readers can purchase tickets for both spring concerts and learn about future Springfield Symphony Orchestra events at https://www.springfieldsymphony.org/.