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Maestro Bob Duff Reveals His Norwalk Symphony Podium Secrets

Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. - I never desired to be Leonard Bernstein or Zubin Mehta, some of the greatest conductors of our time. From a young age, I knew my passion was public service. However, we all have dreams and mine was to conduct an orchestra.

When Barbara Meyer-Mitchell, executive director of the Norwalk Symphony, called to inquire if I would conduct  Jingle Bells, I jumped at the opportunity and physically leapt out of my chair.

You see, my love of conducting goes back to middle school when I played both the trumpet and violin.  There was something that intrigued me. Not that I ever admitted it.

Thankfully, I had my first real chance, as a drum major, in the Norwalk High Marching Band. However, conducting 150 musicians on a football field is a little different than being in a concert hall.

Through my relationships with the symphony, including Emil Albanese and Jane Shelly, I hinted over and over and over again that I'd like to conduct.  I finally had my chance.

Concert night was upon us.  Maestro Jonathan Yates, who was very gracious, and I figured out how to pass the proverbial baton.  It was an almost sold out show and there would be singers and other musicians who were not at the rehearsal. I was just praying that the baton would not fly out of my hand and into the audience. I was nervous, but calm. Confident, yet a little wary of being on stage. When it was time, I walked to the podium, took my baton out and became one with the symphony. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Ultimately, my dream is to conduct Mars or Jupiter from Holst, The Planets or Candide. (Hint, hint.) For now, I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by our fabulous symphony.

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