Post’s classmate to stand in for symphony director

Program will feature return of pianist Zhu Wang

Guest conductor Ken Freed introduces himself to patrons of the San Juan Symphony with a Bach solo at Durango Arts Center during Wednesday’s “Musically Speaking” preview of Sunday’s “Back to the Future” program. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Guest conductor Ken Freed introduces himself to patrons of the San Juan Symphony with a Bach solo at Durango Arts Center during Wednesday’s “Musically Speaking” preview of Sunday’s “Back to the Future” program.

Arthur Post is the unquestioned leader of the San Juan Symphony. This weekend, however, Durango will be rewarded that Post has friends in high places, because the maestro will be about 1,200 miles away in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

In his place, Post invited his college buddy Kenneth Freed to stand in for Sunday’s “Back to the Future” program at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College. The symphony business is a tricky one, and Post’s contract allows him to tap a substitute every so often so he can pursue other opportunities. Freed and Post were classmates at the Yale School of Music. Freed is on loan from his full-time gig as the music director for the Mankato Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota.

On Wednesday, Freed previewed Sunday’s program, and he showed he understands both the material and his friend’s style.

“Arthur’s take is there’s this sensibility of the composers who wore wigs and created the canon, but he’s instead been mining folklore for this year’s season,” Freed said.

“Back to the Future” is on the Symphony’s Lollapalooza theme for 2012-13. The concert will start with the “future,” featuring Derek Bermel’s 2010 composition “Canzonas Americanas,” which was commissioned by superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

“(Dudamel) told him to combine the music of North and South America, and he’s an omnivore. It’s bluesy, accessible and even funky – music you can dance to,” Freed said.

The other two pieces have been around since 1795. Chinese protegé Zhu Wang will return to the San Juan Symphony as the soloist on Beethoven’s Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major for piano and orchestra.

After intermission, “Back to the Future” will conclude with Symphony No. 104 by the “Father of the Symphony,” Joseph Haydn.

Durango resident Meredith Mapel will make her debut with the San Juan Symphony as a vocal soloist.

She has a diverse theatrical and musical background but currently is general manager of Durango/Farmington Coca-Cola.

ted@durangoherald.com