Conductor Extraordinaire: A Tribute

There are people who touch your life in ways you could never imagine.

You may not even be fully aware of their significance until you pause and take a moment to trace back your journey to the present day, connecting the dots that have led to where you are now. This puts me in mind of my favourite Steve Jobs quote:

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

As I connect the dots backwards, the late Daniel Lewis (1925-2017) – conductor extraordinaire and inspiration for The Hapless Rehearsal, my first illustrated book and comical insight into the world of classical music – has sparked two distinct career shifts in my life.

It all started nearly 20 years ago in Los Angeles. Daniel Lewis directed the Colburn Chamber Orchestra at the Colburn School of Performing Arts during my last two years of high school. There wasn't a music programme of any description at my high school, so I went to the Colburn School at weekends for chamber music coaching and orchestra. Mr Lewis remains the most inspirational conductor I have worked with and played a large role in my desire to pursue a career in music. Funnily enough, he was also the catalyst for a career shift about a decade later, inspiring me to refocus my energies on illustration and design.

I started writing The Hapless Rehearsal (originally titled Conductor of the Blind) towards the end of high school. It was always at the back of my mind to finish this, but wasn’t until nearly a decade later that I finally decided to do something about it. I also thought how wonderful it would be to publish this book during Mr Lewis’ lifetime and present him with a copy. I’m so delighted that this was possible and that he was able to see and enjoy it.

  • Daniel Lewis with his copy of <em>The Hapless Rehearsal</em>
  • Daniel Lewis sees the illustrated version of himself!
  • Ahhh... there's nothing quite like wild applause
  • Who can resist a touch of gold foil?

As a child I remember being asked the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was without fail, “a musician, artist and writer.” Daniel Lewis has helped make this childhood dream a reality.

The haunting strains of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, which frame Simon Paisley Day’s captivating reading of The Hapless Rehearsal, seem a fitting tribute to my time all those years ago in the Colburn Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Lewis – a truly top-class conductor and remarkable man.

Daniel Lewis - conductor extraordinaire

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