Courtney's Next Audience

Be sure to reserve your seat for Boston Discovery Ensemble conductor and founder Courtney Lewis's next Boston performance! On April 13th, he will present a pre-concert conversation at 7pm, followed by pieces by Beethoven, Debussy, and Mozart, at Jordan Hall, part of the New England Conservatory.


Hey, Would-be Maestros!

Interested in a career as a conductor? Boston Discovery Ensemble conductor and founder Courtney Lewis offers this advice: "You can take all the classes and read all the books you want. You just have to do it." He recommends that students choose to attend a college with a strong student orchestra. "It's the best way to make it happen."

Dress Like a Conductor

If you haven't been picked up as a conductor quite yet, you can still dress like one. Boston Discovery Ensemble conductor and founder Courtney Lewis tells us Keezer's in Cambridge has all the formal tails and trousers that any proper conductor would proudly wear. 

Where Courtney Hangs

When he's in town, Boston Discovery Ensemble conductor and founder Courtney Lewis loves to check out the jazz festival at the Berklee College of Music, as well as almost anything at Symphony Hall and New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. 

A Modern Classic

Sure, it could have been the jazz festivals in London and New York City that nine-year-old Courtney Lewis hit with his dad. It might as easily have been the clarinet lessons that Courtney took as a kid. But something in that musical childhood prompted this boy to know instantly, indelibly, indescribably that classical music was his thing. The emotional range! The instrumental complexity! The tonal creativity! These are the things that elementary-school-aged Courtney thought about. Then again, he was sort of a prodigy. 

By the time he was in high school in Belfast, Ireland, when other boys were crushing each other in rugby, Courtney was exploring Ludwig van Beethoven's anger. It helped him deal with being a teenager, frankly. Classical music, Courtney reckoned, contained all the stuff of adolescence — the angst, stress, and general pissed-off take on the world. Who better to commiserate with than Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and Bach? Better than a pint, ay? Legal, too. Courtney felt less alone. 


At the University of Cambridge, it became clear that Courtney was special. He shot to the top of his class, excelling in composition and playing his beloved clarinet. But he was gifted in another way, too — people liked him. When he tried conducting, even prickly musicians took to him. Courtney could manage an orchestra and feel each musician, baby. That, coupled with an intuition for what a piece of music can say and do, made for quite a punch — piano forte, you might say. Before long, he had earned his master's and spent a two-year stint as a Zander Fellow at the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2008, as a young 20-something, he had his first major American debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Standing O, Court!


Back in Boston, he became the founder and musical director of the Discovery Ensemble, a chamber orchestra devoted to introducing inner-city kids to classical music. He also works in other cities, conducting the Minnesota Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in sweat-drenched performances that rival any Jay-Z bust-a-move dance. Off hours, you will often find him in classrooms, waxing poetic about Ludwig's No. 9 and Amadeus's minuets — none of which you'll hear on Ryan Seacrest's top 40, you understand, but still spot-on cool. Classical music is classical for a reason; it's timeless, profound, and able to hold up to the challenges of each generation...adolescence included.


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