Looking Forward to Lockington


For those who have driven down the streets of Pasadena, then chances are they have seen David Lockington smiling cheerfully from above. The conductor’s beaming visage has become ubiquitous along that city’s major streets, hanging from countless banners that line Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue.

As he confided earlier this week, he has good reason to smile.

Lockington is currently enjoying his third season at the helm of the Pasadena Symphony, a relationship he characterized as “happy and fruitful.”

“The collegial atmosphere of the orchestra is one of the things I love most,” he said. “These are all men and women who work in studios playing film scores. So they bring an efficiency and flexibility to the Ambassador Auditorium [the orchestra’s home] that they hone in that world. They’re an incredibly flexible and responsive ensemble.”

Those qualities will come into play on Saturday when the orchestra’s guest soloist takes the stage alongside it.

Chinese pianist Zhang Zuo, better known by her stage name Zee Zee, will play Saint-Saëns’ “Piano Concerto No. 2” with the Pasadena Symphony.

Though this will be the first time that Lockington will collaborate with Zee Zee, he has already found himself impressed with her work.

“Just an incredibly talented artist. Not only winner of the BBC Young Performer of the Year award, but also prizes at the Gina Bachauer and Queen Elizabeth Competitions. She has already done some extraordinary things.”

Lockington also looked forward to conducting the Saint-Saëns concerto.

“It’s well balanced between the piano and orchestra. Not like in Chopin where the orchestra is like a shadow. It recalls Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ concerto in a way I like very much,” he said. “But then you also have that playful finale, which led one critic to characterize the concerto as going ‘from Bach to Offenbach.’”

Lockington was also eager to conduct Mozart’s “Symphony No. 41,” popularly known as the “Jupiter,” which closes Saturday’s program. Lockington’s colleague, Pasadena Symphony principal guest conductor Nicholas McGegan is among the foremost exponent of “historically informed practice,” which purports to present music to audiences as the composer was likely to have heard them in his own lifetime. Often this means eschewing practices now seen as anachronistic in the performance of baroque and classical era music, including the use of vibrato.

“All music has to be performed with passion,” Lockington explained. “Whether with or without vibrato, that passion must be there. I personally find it hard to perform Mozart without vibrato. The singing lines of his music, I’m especially thinking of that beautiful slow movement in the ‘Jupiter,’ needs the warmth imparted by that vibrato.”

David Lockington will be conducting the Pasadena Symphony with guest soloist Zee Zee on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, 131 S. St. John Ave. at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $35. To obtain tickets and more information, visit www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org or call (626) 793-7172.