Notes From a Curious Listener

An Insider's Look at LJMS


Jul 22

Anthony Newman, Bach aficionado, on God, horoscopes and the OJ Trial

Published in SummerFestArtist News by KBrailean Print 

INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY NEWMAN PART 1

Anthony Newman

I got lucky with this, my premier blog interview. Anthony Newman was the first SummerFest musician to agree to be interviewed; so what choice did I have? He's a baroque music aficionado. Baroque music (1600 - 1750's), to me, is safe and conventional; so I was a little worried about being bored. I love baroque music; it makes my soul soar. But emotions fall flat when being discussed; so what is there to talk about with Anthony Newman? Well, read on!

You have received congratulatory letters from rock and roll artist, Billy Joel, as well as cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. Which were you more excited about?

Newman:  The 'praise' was for my original music.  I was most surprised and touched from that of Billy Joel, but warmed in my heart with that from Yo-Yo.

I read that you were raised Catholic and now you are the Music Director of St. Matthew's Church. Are you deeply religious? Do you think about God before, during and/or after a performance? How does God affect your music?

Newman:  Well, I think God is actually all there is, beyond comprehension for us, but that the law of cause and effect is the binding force of the universe, and that if we both work for the benefit of others and practice focus meditation, that we can in a future existence become one with the Universe, like the great religious geniuses of the history of humankind: Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus. 

Newman:  Well, if I don't think of God all the time, I'm sure the reverse is not true!

Time Magazine, Aug 28, 1972, said that you cast your own horoscope and would not sign contracts unless the planets are properly positioned. Is that still true today? I'm wondering how that fits in with your religious views.

Newman:   Star positions are reflections of one's karma and therefore one should heed them and their implications.

In Gabriel's Garden, the album featuring Wynton Marsalis which you conducted, was the best selling classical music CD of 1997. Did you know it would be a big seller?

Newman:  I suspected In Gabriel's Garden would be a really big hit, and am still proud of it.

You met Cho-Liang Lin (Jimmy), SummerFest Music Director, while recording that CD. The descriptions about you also fit Lin. "This musical giant is a physically small, humble and quiet man", The Living Church News Service. Are the two of you alike? What it is like to work with him?

Newman:  Jimmy and I are very similar! He's a lovely man to work with, and we both exchange ideas easily.

You wrote an opera about the OJ Simpson trial called Nicole and the Trial of the Century. I listened to samples on the internet and want to see it. Will it be performed?

Newman:  Can you get it performed? There's a big dinner with wine for you if you can! No one has bitten yet, except Lucy Arner Opera co. in NYC, which then ran out of money.

If we get a strong reader response, perhaps we could!  To peak interest, what inspired you to write about this topic? 

Newman:  Nicole was written to bring attention to spousal abuse in this country.  It is a 'perfect' opera theme, like those of Verdi and Shakespeare.  In addition it is meant to show how poorly women often do in trials that involve the abuse of women.

Curious Listener note: This answer surprised me. Opera composers never seem to care about women, portraying them as either irrelevant or evil. How refreshing Newman is! If you'd like to see him in concert, check out Age of Enlightenment and Masterworks and Premières.

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