A City of Roses Welcome for New Symphony Music Director

A City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David LockingtonA City of Roses Welcome David Lockington

Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

3:52 am | October 30, 2013


With a charming smile and a twinkle in his eye, the Pasadena Symphony’s new Music Director David Lockington met his public on Tuesday night at a soirée held at Jacob Maarse Florists even as he prepares for this weekend’s début.

Described as being genuine, warm hearted, and incredibly good at what he does by a long-time friend at the event, the world-renowned conductor said he wants to promote community in Pasadena and help connect people to the relevance of music in their lives.

“I really want the music to speak to everyone’s hearts and I want everyone to feel that the Symphony is a friendly and inclusive place to come and enjoy some of the greatest spiritual outpourings of these composers,” Lockington said.

Music has infiltrated every part of Lockington’s life, as he began his career as a cellist at a young age inspired by the sound of his father’s amateur cello playing. He loves the versatile instrument that can sing beautifully or play an accompaniment. However, when the music stops, Lockington prefers silence.

As the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, where his home is, as well as the Modesto Symphony, Spain’s Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias, and now Pasadena Symphony, Lockington travels often, but never without his folding bike. He loves biking around the city, especially to the market to buy “decent food.” Pasadenans may have spotted him this week at Whole Foods buying pomegranate juice and his greens.

To sustain himself and keep his energy up, Lockington does sprint triathlons and yoga and recently began a new diet eliminating dairy, wheat, and caffeine.

“David is first and foremost an amazing musician, top-notch musician, the orchestra loves him,” CEO of Pasadena Symphony and Pops Paul Jan Zdunek said. “He is also great off the podium. He is engaged in the community, interested in bringing the community into the orchestra hall and making the orchestra a resource much like the library is or any other resource that we have here in Pasadena. He is great sport about going to yoga class, and youth orchestra and rotary and doing these open houses and he is a great musician on the podium as well.”

While Lockington does love the thrill of having the best seat in the house in the middle of all the music, as Zdunek said, the most important thing for Lockington is building community.

“The most important thing for me is the sense of building community on stage and then it in turn goes out into the hall and into the community,” Lockington said. “It’s the way we as musicians interact with the community on an individual basis, it’s the way we encourage young people with our education, it’s the way we reflect the community in the kind of music we perform and who we have perform with the orchestra, helping to connect people to the relevance of music in their lives.”

His proudest moment happened with the Baltimore Symphony when he brought together vocalists of many talents from the local African American churches.

“It was one of the more profound experiences of my life. The music itself but also that it was people who wouldn’t normally ever go to a symphony concert were actually performing with us and feeling they were a part of something really big, something bigger than themselves,” Lockington said.

Board members and community members alike expressed excitement about Lockington at his welcome, including Hank Maarse who said Lockington seems like a perfect fit for the city.

“He is an intellectual, which is different than a musician sometimes. An intellectual, a musician and a great personality together, it’s a great combination,” Pasadena Symphony and Pops board member Dr. Annette Ermshar said.

Lockington was surprised to see his longtime friend Rob Pyle, at whose wedding Lockington had sung many years ago. Pyle has always been impressed by his friend’s skillfulness and happily welcomes him to Pasadena.

“One of the things I like about him so much is, there’s a lot of pretense in that world, but he is truly genuine, kind-hearted, and engaging,” Pyle said.

Looking forward to the upcoming season, Zdunek promised a good show that will take Pasadena on a, “positive emotional roller coaster of music and great playing. I feel like they have settled into a wonderful groove here. Over the last five years we have gone through lots of twists and turns and we are at a place now where we are settled and poised for success.”

Saturday marks the inauguration of a new era of Pasadena Symphony with Lockington’s first concert The Rite of Spring – once a notorious scandal that provoked riots, now one of musical history’s most infamous and visceral sonic rides. Powerhouse violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will deliver Bernstein’s beloved Serenade to celebrate the classical concert season opener.

The Rite of Spring will be held Nov. 2 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the Ambassador Auditorium. Tickets can be bought online at pasadenasymphony-pops.org.