Communicating emotion through gesture

Feb 11, 2016

Nicholas DelBello had an unusual goal in life when he was in middle school in Cheektowaga.

He wanted to be a conductor.

So DelBello wrote a letter to Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra asking just how does one do that?

“I just remember being amazed that being a conductor could be a ‘job,’ “ DelBello says. “I thought standing in the middle of all that sound and trying to coordinate it must be an amazing feeling.”

DelBello, one of four candidates for the conducting job for Genesee Symphony Orchestra, was invited to a BPO rehearsal. He sat with associate conductor Ron Spiegelman and watched as JoAnn Falletta conducted.

“Ron and I sat in the audience following along with the score,” DelBello recalled. “I, of course, had almost no idea what I was looking at. I remember him asking me ‘What’s conducting?’ Other than waving your arms in the middle of an orchestra, I really couldn’t come up with anything.”

Spigelman gave him the answer: Conducting is to be “communicating emotion through gesture.”

“I was a powerful early lesson for me and it still informs my approach to conducting today.”

DelBello, 29, brings that approach to a Valentine’s Day performance at Genesee Community College, where he will showcase his talents for the community and the GSO board members who will eventually name a successor to the popular longtime conductor Raffaele Ponti.

DelBello now lives in Kenmore. He earned a bachelor’s degreee from Fredonia and a master’s from University of Miami. He is a teacher at Buffalo Public Schools and an adjunct professor at Canisius and Villa Maria colleges. All four candidates will be conducting concerts this year.

For DelBello, it is not only a chance to vie for the position, but a chance to meet the Batavia-area community and its many musicians.

DelBello took a few moments to answer some questions about his desire to become a conductor:

What is your impression of GSO?

The GSO has a very dedicated core group of musicians who are committed to bring live symphonic music to the Batavia community. I am especially impressed with their educational programs, like “Meet the Orchestra” initiative that I’ll be participating in this weekend. I’ll be speaking to a group of young music students before our dress rehearsal, and then those students will get to sit in the orchestra during rehearsal.

What ideas would you bring to GSO?

I would hope to bring exciting programming that motives the musicians and engages the audience. I think it’s very important to program the works of living composers and that is something I would actively work to incorporate into GSO’s concert programs.

Describe yourself as a conductor?

I try to keep things friendly, but business-like. It’s all about the music and any conductor who tries to make it about them rather than just making good music is in it for the wrong reasons. When you’re dealing with volunteers, as the core members of GSO are, it’s so important to make it fun for them. Otherwise, why show up?

You formed Buffalo Brass Choir. Tell us about that.

I formed that five years ago. It was kind of a throw-together group at first. I needed another concert for the church concert series that I manage and thought I’d ask a bunch of my brass-playing friends to get together. Afterwards, we thought it would be worthwhile to make it into a permanent group. We started fundraising and here we are five years later as a paid, professional brass group of about 15 to 20 players. We did two concerts that first year and have nine on schedule this year.

It is difficult knowing you will be following Ponti?

I think you have to be confident in who you are and what your goals are for a group. If you’ve got that confidence, then you can respect the work of a predecessor without being intimidated by it. If selected for the position, it will mean that the board and the musicians felt that I was the best person to carry on and expand upon the vision of Maestro Ponti.

How have you been received so far?

Everyone that I’ve met so far in Batavia has been extraordinarily friendly and enthusiastic. This goes for musicians, board members and media people. I think there’s a real excitement over the whole process of auditioning potential music directors and I’m happy to be a part of it.

Why is it important to have a local orchestra?

It’s important on many levels. It’s important that local musicians have a performance outlet where they can play great orchestral music. It’s also extremely important to the community at-large. An orchestra is just one part of the overall cultural offerings that communities should have. It’s a point of civic pride. Plus, you can buy a family ticket for Sunday’s concert for $35! Where else can you find family entertainment for a price like that?

What can we expect Sunday?

Sunday’s concert is going to be great! We’re calling it “Flutes and Flourishes” and there are several special guests. The concert opens with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture”. The orchestra will be joined by 10 members of the Buffalo Brass Choir performing rarely-played extra brass parts from the balcony. Next is Mozart’s “Flute Concerto in G Major”. Our guest soloist is Christine Bailey Davis, principal flutist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. After intermission we will tip our hat to Valentines Day with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Un sonnet d’amour” (A Love Song). After that we’ll invite Ms. Davis back onstage for Franz Doppler’s “Andante and Rondo for Two Flutes”. She will be joined by my lovely wife, Miranda DelBello. Closing the program will be one of the great orchestral showpieces: Respighi’s “Pines of Rome”. Respighi wrote three tone poems dedicated to Rome, and this one is meant to depict pine trees in various locations around the city: in a village, near a tomb, near a hill, and on the “Appian Way”, the long military road leading to Rome. Musicians from the Buffalo Brass Choir will again play from the balcony in the final movement, depicting soldiers marching in the distance.

(The concert begins at 4 p.m. at Stuart Steiner Theatre, preceded by Meet the Orchestra at 3 and a pre-concert talk from 3:15 to 3:30. Tickets are available at GO-ART!, Roxy’s, Batavia Senior Center, Bank of Castile in Le Roy and at www.geneseesymphony.com.)

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by Scott Desmit, The Daily News (2/11/2016)
For online article, click here!