Conducting the orchestra is indescribable experience

The Poway Symphony Orchestra is back, and the next concert will be March 20. (courtesy of Poway Symphony Orchestra)

Conducting the orchestra is indescribable experience

By Terry L. Wilson

With a wave of his hand, John LoPiccolo has the unique ability to energize an auditorium, filling the once silent space with the excitement of a hundred instruments, each playing a specific part in the telling of a musical story as translated under the conductor’s direction.

“I wish everyone could, at some time in their life, feel the excitement of conducting a symphony orchestra,” said John LoPiccolo, conductor and music director of the Poway Symphony Orchestra. “It’s kind of like driving a car for the first time. You can take the drivers ed classes, but until you get in the car and actually put your foot on the gas and do it; that’s where it’s at.”

One only has to watch LoPiccolo’s facial expressions and body language as he becomes intertwined with the music he is conducting to see that a piece of him lives in each note. Every change of tempo evokes an emotional expression from the maestro, adding to the excitement of the performance. 

“You can study the music and study the score until you hear it in your head. However, when you get in front of a 68-piece orchestra, then suddenly a wave of sound engulfs you and every instrument is humming in unison. It’s like watching an organism breathe. It’s exhilarating,” LoPiccolo explained. “Plus, to have a guest artist who is at the top of his or her game, and you’re relating to that person on a very high level – the feeling is indescribable. It’s such an adrenaline rush that it isn’t until the end of the piece, and the applause has silenced, that I can fully appreciate what has just happened.”

LoPiccolo has held the position of conductor and music director of the Poway Symphony since 2014. Under his leadership, the music is back for another season. The Symphony has experienced tremendous growth both artistically and musically.

“Our opening concert was another near sellout. We are looking forward to our next concert in March,” LoPiccolo said. “We are going to be featuring our principal cellist, Daniel Grad, and he will be playing the ‘Saint-Saens Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1.’ The other piece we will be featuring is ‘(César) Franck – Symphony in D Minor.’ That is a blockbuster piece which is going to have a big orchestra and promises to be nothing short of incredible.” 

Several weeks passed since LoPiccolo had conducted the season’s first concert, but it was obvious from the excitement in his voice that he was still feeling the emotional feedback from opening night.

“As you may have noticed, I’m still flying high off this last concert we did. It was an unbelievable performance by a returning guest artist, Frederick Moyer. He played the big ‘Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto’ with a 68-member orchestra. It was electrifying,” he said. “The Poway Symphony is becoming a semi-professional orchestra, and that concert made a statement for our upcoming season. We are embarking on bringing in world famous guest artists, which is also unique for a community orchestra.” 

The next concert will be Sunday, March 20, 4 p.m. at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. Visit  

John LoPiccolo