Dashing Courtney Lewis made his first public appearance Tuesday night as the Minnesota Orchestra’s new assistant conductor. And, oh, what an appearance it was for the packed Guarantors’ Concert featuring works by Berlioz, Strauss, Sousa and Brahms.
My guarantor sat next to me, and even though we were in the very last row because he likes to beat the crowds to the parking ramp, we could see the expressive energy and agility of Lewis.
Not to take anything away from the widely celebrated music director Osmo Vänskä, but Lewis has to be any orchestra marketing department’s dream. He and the orchestra certainly kept us awake after our long workdays. And the rest of the audience seemed to approve, judging from numerous standing ovations.
“Do you think he took dance lessons?” I asked my guarantor on the way out.
“I like him a lot,” he said later, adding that Lewis definitely has “conductor’s hair.”
You’ll see what we mean by checking out this YouTube video from September of Lewis conducting Boston’s Discovery Ensemble, which he founded.
There’s no mention of dance lessons in his bio. Lewis, who was born in Belfast, Ireland, studied music composition and clarinet at Cambridge University before attending the Royal Northern College of Music. He also has worked with orchestras and chamber ensembles “from London to Venezuela,” according to the program notes.
We also have President Obama and Congress to thank for the arrival of Lewis. The program notes that his position is partially funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.