Upper Crust: Lima Symphony Orchestra conductor thrives on music


Symphony conductor thrives on music

By James Luksic - jluksic@limanews.com



Andrew Crust, music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, said his greatest accomplishment is the fact his career involves making music.

Andrew Crust, music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, said his greatest accomplishment is the fact his career involves making music.


Submitted photo courtesy of Andrew Crust

LIMA — One might assume an orchestra conductor spent his childhood raised by parents or guardians who were composers and classical musicians.

One would be wrong in the case of Andrew Crust.

The Lima Symphony Orchestra’s music director had familial ties with only one music-maker: his stepfather, Terry, who performed in bands.

Nevertheless, Crust’s mother and father had considerable influence in sonically shaping his future.

“I credit my parents with exposing me to a range of styles — from Nina Simone to Mozart to Led Zeppelin to Vivaldi,” said the 34-year-old Kansas native.

The Beatles’ records were among those often playing loudly at his home.

“Maybe that’s why I like the sound of a full symphony orchestra,” he said.

In fact, it was his dad’s old trumpet that became the “natural, economical” go-to instrument for Crust, who joined a school band in fifth grade. That was a sign of things to come, as he participated in the high school pit orchestra, marching band and jazz band, picking up a French horn along the way.

Those activities merely whet Crust’s appetite. He began composing music via Finale, a notation software, performed at open-mic nights in Kansas City’s Jazz District and busked for spare change.

His musical education was chiefly self-guided, he explained, and he knows the precise moment when he discovered the harmonic series.

“I noticed an airplane overhead making a sound that sounded like multiple notes, a chord,” he said, adding it wasn’t until college that he learned the physics involved.

It wasn’t long thereafter that Crust’s curiosity and wanderlust took over: He traversed the United States, Europe and Canada, earning a master’s degree at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Beforehand, he studied music education at Wichita State University.

“Every classical musician must spend as much time as possible in Europe. Spending time in Germany, Italy or France gives you context to shape your interpretation,” he explained.

When Crust arrived in Lima for good circa February 2020, his connection to the community was instant, according to Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, executive director of LSO.

“Andrew distinguished himself as a top candidate, and working with him in person is an affirmation of all we had hoped,” she said. “He offered much more than just outstanding skills on the (conductor’s) podium.”

That is why he was ultimately selected — in a process that started at the onset of 2018 — among 200 applicants to stand front and center before the orchestra.

The dozen members of LSO’s search committee had narrowed down the hopefuls to eight finalists, from which Crust emerged as the last maestro standing. LSO’s extensive criteria entailed Zoom interviews, spending a week in Lima and leading the orchestra in a concert. Musicians and community members assessed each finalist, Brown-Ellis stated via email.

“Andrew demonstrated a genuine interest in learning about Lima,” she said. “That week was not about selling himself.”

Crust was impressed with the thoroughness of LSO’s evaluation and hiring process.

“It was really well-planned,” he said.

Both sides were auditioning one another, Crust explained, and he felt a connection.

Ultimately, Crust thinks it is imperative to work with orchestras that have the right priorities.

“What kind of programming is relevant and powerful to the local audience? How do we reach young people? Is there potential for growth?” he asked. “All those things I found in Lima.”

To say Brown-Ellis appreciates Crust is like saying the Grand Canyon is big.

“Andrew has honored and built upon our traditions while bringing fresh ideas and vitality to our orchestra,” she said. “His programming is vibrant, inclusive and exciting.”

Black History Month in February 2022 is something to which Crust looks forward, as LSO will host a concert comprising a trio of Black composers and a soprano, followed by a poet slam.

“As an orchestra, we’re only getting stronger artistically,” he said.

Crust’s self-described “embarrassment of riches” includes a panoply of awards, though there isn’t one specific honor he cherishes more than others. What matters most is the music itself.

“Simply having the chance to make this my career is my greatest accomplishment,” he said. “The great thing about music is there’s no end point. There is always more to learn, more ways to grow, discover new composers and hone your skills.”

Andrew Crust, music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, said his greatest accomplishment is the fact his career involves making music.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/11/web1_AndrewCrust-profile.jpgAndrew Crust, music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, said his greatest accomplishment is the fact his career involves making music. Submitted photo courtesy of Andrew Crust
Symphony conductor thrives on music

By James Luksic

jluksic@limanews.com

Reach James Luksic at 567-242-0399.

Reach James Luksic at 567-242-0399.

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