The Ridgefield Symphony’s season opener last Saturday evening at the Anne S. Richardson Auditorium, with Yuga Cohler on the podium as the third of four guest conductors competing for the position of the orchestra’s next music director, was so enjoyable and generally excellent that one wonders how it could be outdone. Maestro Cohler’s program included Dawn, a recent composition by Paul Frucht, who was on hand and spoke about the piece, Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with cellist Julian Schwarz as soloist, and Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.
Paul Frucht explained that Dawn was inspired by and is dedicated to Dawn Hochsprung, the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, where she gave her life trying to protect her students from the armed gunman who attacked them. Frucht had personally known and worked with her when he was a student at Rogers Park Middle School, where she was assistant principal. The music’s excellent orchestration is alternately effectively somber and impassioned, and Maestro Cohler’s direction beautifully defined its shifting nuances. Frucht is obviously a composer with a career to follow.