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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

More Morihiko as beloved conductor returns to Spokane Symphony

Morihiko Nakahara, former resident conductor of the Spokane Symphony, returns to town this weekend to conduct the orchestra in works by Amy Beach, W.A. Mozart and Sydney Guillaume.  (Courtesy)
By Ed Condran The Spokesman-Review

It’s always a homecoming for conductor Morihiko Nakahara when he returns to perform with the Spokane Symphony. Nakahara moved to Spokane in 2003 and was immediately embraced by the classical community.

“I love coming back to Spokane so much for so many reasons,” Nakahara said while calling from Columbia, South Carolina. “First off, there’s the Spokane Symphony, which has always been family to me. And then there is the city of Spokane. It’s changed so much since I left (in 2010). I love Spokane since I’m a walker. The development of the Riverfront area and Kendall Yards is just tremendous.”

Nakahara, 47, will try to get his steps in when he’s not focusing on and performing Masterworks 3 Saturday and Sunday at the Fox Theater.

Nakahara will conduct Amy Beach’s Gaelic Symphony, Sydney Guillaume’s “Lavil Okap” and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21.

Nakahara is particularly excited about Beach’s work, which debuted in Boston in 1896, since she is the composer of the first published symphony by an American woman.

“The Gaelic Symphony is extraordinary,” Nakahara said. “Amy Beach’s work is a grand romantic symphony she was inspired to write after hearing Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony.’ It has drama and that big bone sound of the late romantic period.”

Then there’s Mozart’s stunning 1785 concerto, which has been featured in films such as “Superman Returns” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” “That concerto is so familiar since it has been in so many movies,” Nakahara said. “You can’t beat the elegance of Mozart.”

The music director of the South Carolina Philharmonic added a modern piece, “Lavil Okap,” by Haitian composer Sydney Guillaume. “ ‘Lavil Okap’ is a terrific contemporary piece that infuses the percussive and melodious sounds of Haiti,” Nakahara said. “It’s a diverse lineup. The music spans 230 years, which is cool.”

Nakahara, who lives in Virginia, looks forward to seeing old pals. “Spokane will always be home for me,” Nakahara said. “I have so many friends there and the symphony there is so great. It’ll be a wonderful time for me and for anyone who comes out to experience this varied program.”