IF YOU GO
What: “Keith Lockhart Returns,” with the former frequent guest conductor behind the baton with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and guest artist Andrew von Oeyen, piano, performing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 and Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Artis—Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples
Price: $29 to $79
To buy: 239-597-1900 or www.artisnaples.org; rush tickets available beginning at 6 p.m.
Something else: Conductor’s prelude at 7 p.m. both nights
Keith Lockhart is bravely trying to make good on a rescheduled phone interview promise and juggle a visit to a masseuse to keep his baton shoulder fit. He calls from his car in the metal maze of Boston traffic.
Wait, Keith. We can talk later.
And he does, with a 4 p.m. chat before dinner with the kids — dad’s duty on a recent Friday night — and an evening social event for his home orchestra, the famous Boston Pops.
Everyone wants to talk to Lockhart. He left his position with the Utah symphony two years ago but was asked to conduct another program this year.
He has taken on music directorship at the Brevard, N.C., Music Center and is principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra.
He also has made time this weekend to return to Naples, at its request, to conduct during the 25th anniversary of the facility originally known as the Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
Naples Daily News: We delayed this interview because you had a shoulder massage and that brought the question: What are the physical ailments conductors are prone to?
Keith Lockhart: Most conductors by a certain point in their careers have creaks and pops and all kinds of things I’ve been waving my arms wildly around for the last 30 years, so something is bound to happen. Our ailments are much the same as pitchers — except they don’t pitch into their 50s.
NDN: What brought you to program Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 for this concert?
KL: I suggested Berlioz because it’s a wonderful piece. It is a favorite piece of mine, and I did this piece years ago with the Naples Philharmonic and I knew it would be a good one to do again.
Then (the program) kind of comes from their management (Artis— Naples). Management suggests the guest star, and I had worked with Andrew (von Oeyen) before and the Beethoven was one of his selections, another one that I like very much.
NDN: The Piano Concerto No. 4 is one of Beethoven’s best-known piano concertos, and the beginning and end are familiar. Can you give us something to watch for in the central section?
KL: The slow movement of the concerto is very interesting in its call and response, where it sounds like piano and orchestra are inhabiting two different worlds. The orchestra is quite solemn and reserved and piano very expressive.
Beethoven really took the piano concerto from the classical form of Mozart into the romantic age in his third, fourth and fifth concertos.
NDN: Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique is certainly his best-known work. What gives it its enduring appeal?
KL: There are certain works of art and literature and certainly works of music that are ahead of their time. If you know a lot about music, you’d think it was written 50, 75, 100 years ahead of its time. How could he have thought of these harmonic programs, these devices? Its devices make it both a great deal of fascinating music and a groundbreaking piece in history.
NDN: When you come to Naples — and you’ve been here many times — is there something in particular you like to do?
KL: Soak up the sun. Having had mostly a Northeastern existence, in the ’90s when I was conducting in Naples, I was spending the winter months in Cincinnati (with the Cincinnati Pops) and there’s not much competition from there in the weather department in January.
I like the water. I like to get down to the water, and go down to Port Royal just to be near the water.