A: By pure chance, I ended up making the world premiere of “Gee’s Bend”, the concerto for electric guitar, with the Alabama Symphony. Whoever was supposed to lead the concert dropped out for some reason and they invited me. I got the score a few weeks before the concert. I learned about it and thought it was a really cool piece. I had a wonderful time doing it and I knew Michael. I had done bits of him before so after the Birmingham shows I said, ‘Let’s do it in Dayton. Maybe we could make a recording of it. He said he had the perfect pieces to go with it. His idea was to have a concerto for electric guitar, a concerto for classical guitar and then a third piece. There is no guitar in it but there is a very important harp part, so there are these three plucked string parts.
Q: So it was still planned as an album? I wasn’t sure since the tracks weren’t presented in the same concert or even the same season.
A: Yes, we programmed the three songs with the idea of making an album out of them. We record everything for radio broadcast, and we were hoping to have the material from these radio broadcast recordings to use for a commercial recording. It took time for the plan to come to fruition. We had the funding, but there were a lot of little pieces that had to come together to do that.
Q: There are times when the orchestra sits for long periods. I know it’s common, but what does it do for you, as a conductor, to follow?
A: Yeah, in almost every concerto-like piece, there’s usually at least one bit where it’s just the soloist doing his thing. In some cases, more than one pass. It sort of goes with the territory, but I don’t just sit and listen during those bits. I’m glued to the music and I’m because it keeps me engaged. I don’t just sit there waiting for the last three bars before playing. I also have this superstition that if I am, the player won’t have a memory slip. It forces me to stay in the moment, but, at that point, it’s all in the other person’s hands, so I just follow along and wait for our turn to come.
Q: What does it mean to have these compositions now available for posterity?
A: It’s always fun to have recordings there. It’s even more exciting whenever you have a project like this CD where you have three tracks that haven’t been recorded before. It’s an important part of getting these pieces out into the world and having a life so that another orchestra or conductor has a chance to hear this piece and think, “Oh, I’d like do that with my orchestra.” It is an important mission for us to help these parts. I’m glad we were able to do that.
Q: Congratulations on the recent announcement of your five-year retirement plan. What does it do?
A: Thanks. It’s good. It’s much better for the organization to have time to decide how to do it and to do it right. If it lasts four years, so much the better. If it ends up lasting six years, we can probably make it work too. It gives us a chance to be careful and do what’s best for the institution (because) that’s still what I’ve always been.
Q: Do you have another CD project you would like to release before you retire?
A: I hadn’t thought of that, but I’d be open to the idea. We could dig through the archives. The only good thing to come out of all this (pandemic) is that we had this weekly radio show where we rebroadcast concerts from the archives. It was really fun for me to go through the archives and hear all these performances. We almost certainly wouldn’t do a recording project from scratch as it would cost too much, but making releases from archival material is much more possible. If someone said to me, “In honor of your retirement, we should choose a farewell CD,” that would be really great because there’s so much good stuff to choose from.
More information: daytonperformingarts.org.
HOW TO LISTEN
What: The new CD of compositions by Michael Daugherty from the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
Where: DPAA’s weekly “Concert Night” on Discover Classical, WDPR-FM (88.1, 89.9)
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, July 3
More info: Discoverclassical.org, daytonperformingarts.org