Symphony’s new music director looks forward to new season, getting to know community

Charles Latshaw Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra music director


New sights

Charles Latshaw enjoys aerial photography and has captured some of amazing footage of his new surroundings using his quadcopter.

Latshaw’s most recent videos were taken on Grand Mesa, in the desert north of Grand Junction and on Riggs Hill and show the beauty and variety of landscape found in and around the Grand Valley.

To find Latshaw’s YouTube channel, go to and search “Charles Latshaw.”

Charles Latshaw is losing no time in getting to know the musicians, community and landscape of his new home.

About two weeks ago, he arrived from Cleveland and already he has been out to explore Grand Mesa and the high desert, which “is an alien planet to me” coming from Ohio, he said.

He also has gotten better acquainted with the symphony’s musicians.

“It’s a little bit like a marriage,” Latshaw said.

You sign on and then you learn more about each other as you go, he said.

Latshaw will step out as the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra’s new music director for its annual An Evening Under the Stars concert on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Sherwood Park.

“I am really looking forward to spending time outdoors in Grand Junction and meeting the community,” said Latshaw, who is well aware of the large number of people who likely will attend Saturday’s concert.

The program will include the patriotic pieces many have come to expect at the annual concert as well as a sampling from the symphony’s 2016–17 season.

The season’s first concerts are set for Sept. 19–20 at Avalon Theatre and will feature Young Artist winner Vincent Yang playing Franz Liszt’s “Piano Concert No. 2” as well as a performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1.”

Brahms had the large shadow of Ludwig van Beethoven behind him and felt the need to measure up to what Beethoven had done, Latshaw said.

It took 21 years for Brahms to come up with something he felt worthy, he said.

That background along with the fact that Brahms happens to be the favorite composer of both Latshaw and former symphony maestro Kirk Gustafson are why Latshaw is looking forward to the performance.

“I want to give honor to the legacy of Kirk Gustafson,” Latshaw said.

Gustafson led the symphony for 29 years before his retirement earlier this year.

Prior to that retirement, Gustafson and symphony Executive Director Kelly Anderson already were working on a program featuring the music of “West Side Story,” and those efforts led to the concerts set for Oct. 29–30 at Avalon Theatre.

“Extraordinary actors and singers” Zulimar Lopez-Hernandez and Andrew Maughan will perform the parts of Maria and Tony for “Suite No 1” of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” Latshaw said.

The remainder of the music for those concerts “is connected to and inspired by Shakespeare,” he said.

It all creates an eclectic mix of music with which “we reach an audience more closely ... new and old, serious and fun.”


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