Symphony performs with Pacho Flores


Another memorable concert of the Central Ohio Symphony took place on Sunday, March 17. A broad panoply of composers, musicians, and musical styles was represented. For traditionalists, listening to Dvořák’s dramatic Symphony No. 7 in D minor was a moving experience. The second half of the concert was dominated by lively Hispanic and Latin American rhythms and tunes, exemplified by trumpeter Pacho Flores.

David Hejmanowski, vice president of the Board of Trustees, made the opening remarks and provided a preview of the concert. He thanked the various supporters that made the event possible, among them Ohio Wesleyan University, the City of Delaware, the Ohio Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He also reminded the audience of the upcoming May 4 concert. On that program are Russian composers Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. In addition, there will be a modern work by Jennifer Jolley.

Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) lived in a politically volatile time as his home country, Bohemia, sought more political, cultural, linguistic, and religious autonomy from the retrograde Austrian-Hungarian Empire where free will did not exist. The recent loss of his mother and oldest child also darkened his mood. The Symphony No. 7 is an expression of the turmoil and trauma he suffered during the 1880s. There is a lot of unhappy brooding, and three of the four movements are in a minor key. Even the dance-like scherzo part, for which he used native sources, is written in D minor. Turbulence reigns throughout the work, but the emotions are restrained given the fact that Dvořák by then was not only a mature man in the prime of his life but also deeply indebted to the German tradition of Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. While the Symphony No. 9, “from the New World,” remains the composer’s most popular work, the Symphony No. 7 may be his finest and is a worthy successor to the German masters. Maestro Jaime Morales-Matos and the Symphony performed the challenging work with both musical precision and emotional passion.

After intermission, the Symphony pivoted to the more modern music of the Americas. Cincinnati-based composer Susanna Hancock (b. 1992), who currently serves as visiting faculty at Miami University, came to Delaware to provide a little tutorial on her 2016 piece “Beghilolia.” The title of the 10-minute work is derived from the whimsical and fictitious word “beghilos,” which is the unintentional alphabet of available letters found on a calculator when turned upside down. The modern, experimental work is based on a limited number of minimalistic building blocks and focuses on musical properties such as texture, fluidity, rhythm, chromatics, dynamics, and harmonics. As these basic elements become intertwined, something resembling a leitmotivic melody gradually forms, like a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It is actually a quite beautiful, hummable piece that leaves a lasting impression.

Swedish trombonist, conductor, and composer Christian Lindberg (b. 1958) is noted for promoting contemporary music as well as expanding the repertoire of concerti for trombone. His “Caballos mágicos” (“Magic Horses), written in 2021, is a musical portrait of six horses, beginning with the winged Pegasus from Greek mythology. Depending on the character of the horse – from feral to domesticated – the sections may be fast and furious or slow and calm. Renowned trumpeter Pacho Flores was the soloist of the virtuosic work. According to Lindberg, he has amazing musical skills that no one else possesses. No other trumpeter comes even close to his ability to perform up and down major and minor scales and arpeggios so rapidly that they sound like glissando-style. Pacho Flores may well be dubbed “the Paganini of the trumpet.” To add additional color, he used a set of different trumpets to enhance the character of each

horse. The man definitely has “rizz” (charisma), not to mention a sense of humor, and his virtuosity and charm brought the audience to their feet.

Pacho Flores was also the soloist in the following work, ”Divertimento caribeño No. 6” by Sonia Morales (b. 1961), which was a world premiere. Her genre-crossing compositions encompass a wide variety of styles. As the title indicates, the focus of this one-movement work was on the lively rhythms from the Caribbean such as the genres of danza and plena from Puerto Rico, the composer’s country of origin. While “Divertimento caribeño No. 4” explored the capabilities of the cello, “Divertimento caribeño No. 6” experiments with the wide register and versatility of the trumpet. It seems that Pacho Flores, whom Morales met in the past, was the inspiration for this work.

Lastly, the audience was treated to a special encore. Music director Jaime Morales-Matos on the trombone joined Pacho Flores to perform the smooth and sweet piece entitled “Diamond Hands” by Spanish trombonist, conductor, and composer Ricardo Mollá (b. 1992) that first premiered in 2021. The quiet, pleasing work is supposed to be inspired by “the blockchange technology and the upcoming aerospace career.” What that actually means remains a mystery to this reviewer, but it seems to have something to do with space flight. Suffice it to say that the short work definitely has an extraterrestrial, transcendental quality.

We would be amiss if we didn’t recognize the enriching contribution local artist David W. Groff made to the concert. Not only did he create an amazing concert poster depicting a jumping horse but in the lobby he also showcased a series of other paintings that featured various equines in motion. Dave Groff grew up in Mansfield, Ohio, and spent his childhood surrounded by farm animals. After a successful professional career as a commercial illustrator for many national brands, he is now pursuing his passion as a painter. You may visit his website,, to see delightful samples of his remarkable portfolio.

As noted in the past, some logoed “merch” is now available at the concert venue, including T-shorts, teddy bears, holiday ornaments, wine glasses, and umbrellas. SourcePoint once again provided transportation for senior citizens with mobility issues. Our heartfelt thanks also goes to the many concertgoers, donors, and advertisers. Another way to support the local symphony orchestra is through planned giving. Every gift, no matter the size, makes great music! As is usually the case, the entire concert was recorded by OWU‘s videographer Elaine Chun and is available for free on YouTube. If you search for it on the Symphony’s website, you will notice a fresh, redesigned look.

Lastly, it is now official that Executive Director Warren Hyer will retire at the end of this concert season. A lengthy job description is available on the Symphony’s website, and the search for a successor has begun. Hyer will have been with the Symphony for over 30 years and will be hard to replace. We thank him for his many years of service and the phenomenal job he has done.

Local resident Thomas K. Wolber, Ph.D., taught foreign languages and literatures at Ohio Wesleyan University for over 30 years. He is now retired. Wolber has an undergraduate degree in music from a German university, plays the piano, and is passionate about classical music. His email address is [email protected].

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