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GPSO will play a spring-themed concert Sunday

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 2, 2011

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — To bid farewell to winter, the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra continues its 2010-11 season with a program called “The Winds of Spring” March 6 at Parcells Middle School.

The concert begins at 3 p.m., but those who want to learn more about the music are also invited to a pre-concert lecture at 2 p.m., given by educator, music critic and organist John Guinn, the music minister at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Park.

The program includes pieces by Paul Dukas and Antonin Dvorak, the Mozart Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major and Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” with narration by WRJC-FM personality Dave Wagner.

GPSO Board President William Hulsker said for this concert, they’re breaking up the orchestra into sections on some works.

“It gives people a chance to hear what that section of the orchestra sounds like,” he said.

With the Detroit Symphony Orchestra season on hold as contract talks have stalled between management and musicians, Guinn, of Grosse Pointe City, said audiences are starved for live classical music performances.

“It’s a great tragedy to see (the DSO) stop (performing),” said Guinn, noting that the group is world-renowned and has been a positive ambassador for Detroit. “If we lose the orchestra, that’s going to be the end of the city culturally.”

Thus, the GPSO performance will be especially welcome to those who love classical music. And it will even feature a DSO presence, with such DSO members as music director Joe Striplin and a guest appearance by DSO flutist Jeff Zook, who will play the Mozart flute piece.

Zook of Pleasant Ridge has been a member of the DSO since 1992. The Interlochen Arts Academy graduate — who recently returned to his alma mater for a teaching stint — also studied music at the University of Michigan and the Royal Academy of Music in London, from which he received the prestigious Recital Diploma. He is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Advancement of the Arts grant.

Zook said he “fell in love with this piece” when he was 12.

“When I took this to my teacher the following year, she said, ‘Some people say that you really can’t begin to understand the style of Mozart until you’re at least 30 years old, so I’m not sure you’re quite ready for this piece, Jeff.’ Well, of course, this spurred me on to learn it,” Zook said.

When Zook’s youth orchestra conductor, Adrian College Professor Gerald Doan, heard Zook practicing the concerto, Doan invited Zook to perform it with the Adrian Symphony.

“So, I guess you could call this my concerto debut piece,” he said.

Zook said he grew up listening to the Jean-Pierre Rampal performance of this work on vinyl.

“I recently discovered video of him performing this piece on YouTube and am amazed to be able to view and hear his classic style, elegance and panache online — lucky me,” he said. “I hope to emulate a fraction of the greatness I hear and see in these videos.”

Zook has recently performed solos for the Birmingham-Bloomfield and Plymouth symphonies, as well as the GPSO. Like his fellow DSO musicians, he’s accepted a variety of different gigs this season during the strike.

“After a period of shock and severe depression back in September, I feel I have emerged from that time with a renewed passion for the art of flute playing and teaching, and have found a new love for who I am and what I do,” Zook said. “It is profound to be suddenly devalued for something which you’ve spent your entire life preparing and producing, especially when it is something as intangible as an art form.

“I’ve had some amazing musical experiences this season, including performing Anne Wilson’s ‘Song of Hope’ with Thomas Trenney conducting amazing singers and chamber musicians at Christ Church Cranbrook and the Ward Presbyterian Church,” he continued. “My performing life has taken me from playing piccolo with (the) St. Louis Symphony under Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos to accompanying on piano amazing high school vocalists at the Cranbrook school.”

Within the last two weeks, Zook worked with Interlochen students and did a nine-day teaching tour at universities in Miami and Naples, Fla.

He’s looking forward to the GPSO concert and a chance to perform a piece that has so much significance to him.

Parcells is located at 20600 Mack, next to the Woods Branch of the Grosse Pointe Public Library at Mack and Vernier. Tickets are $15 regular admission, $12 for seniors and free to students. They can be purchased at the door or in advance. For tickets or more information, call Hulsker at (313) 640-1773.