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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Composer and guest violinist join the Junior Symphony to premiere a concerto with a purpose

Composer Lucas Richman and violinist Mitchell Newman
Cara Lieurance
Composer Lucas Richman and violinist Mitchell Newman

The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra has hit many milestones in its 84-year history, including recent tours to Spain and South Africa with music director Andrew Koehler. On Sunday, Feb 19 at 4 pm in Chenery Auditorium, the group will experience another major milestone.

In collaboration with the Stulberg International String Competition and Community Healing Centers, the symphony will present the world premiere of a new violin concerto by American composer Lucas Richman called Paths to Dignity. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, the composer, the violin soloist, and KJSO music director Andrew Koehler talk about the work and its message of recognition and solidarity with people who are experiencing homelessness.

The soloist is a longtime friend of the composer. Mitchell Newman recently retired from the Los Angeles Philharmonic after 36 years to pursue another path of significance for him: working with young performers and ensembles. Newman visited Kalamazoo in 2021 to serve as as an adjudicator for the Stulberg International String Competition. In the interview, he plays a few of the concerto’s themes on his violin as Richman reveals the words and meaning he assigned them.

Those who attend the concert are encouraged to bring items like baby wipes, lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, diapers and warm clothing for which there is always a need. Full details are at this link.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.