Luke Matheny gets his Oscar. Plus, Thirty Seconds with DSO's Jeri Lynne Johnson, Edge of Seven helps the world's women, Blue Rocks by the numbers, Dover's new tower of power, Vikki Walls uncorks her favorite CDs and more.
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Jeri Lynne Johnson was recently named cover conductor for the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. She is also founder and music director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra in Philadelphia.
DT: What should I call you, Maestro?
JJ: You could call me maestra. To Italian people maestra is a dominatrix, but it’s fine in America (laughing). You don’t have to put that in your story.
DT: How did your DSO gig come about?
JJ: A few of the players in my orchestra play with DSO. Last February we were doing a recording, and some of them had a DSO rehearsal that night, so I let everybody go early. The people in Delaware heard about that. It created an awareness between the organizations. I met with (DSO leaders) and they offered me the position.
DT: What are your duties with DSO?
JJ: My job is to lead the orchestra (in conductor David Amado’s absence), but also have confidence with the repertoire so the orchestra can feel comfortable playing it.
DT: My favorite DSO performance was “Bugs Bunny on Broadway.” Should I be ashamed?
JJ: You should not be ashamed. Those old ’40s and ’50s cartoons were great. They used Wagner and great pieces that people are familiar with through those cartoons. When I’m working with young African-American kids at schools with no music programs, I go straight to Bugs Bunny.
DT: Can the fact that you’re a relatively young conductor, African-American and a woman, help younger, more diverse audiences enjoy classical music?
JJ: When I started my orchestra, that was certainly my hope. People say, “You look like you’re having so much fun.” Well, we are. We’re smiling. We palpably enjoy what we’re doing and have fun with each other. The diversity and positive energy that we project helps them enjoy the music.
JJ: So, Maestra, just how big is your ego?
JJ: My ego is... I’m thankful that the (DSO) trusts me to have their backs if something goes wrong. I’m honored for them to ask me to step in there in a breach if they need it. —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: God of Film | Take a bow, Delaware. Luke Matheny is sharing his Oscar gold with you.