Originally Published: April 19, 2012 8:02 p.m.
Longtime classical music conductor Alasdair Neale has no need for apologetics.
Among myriad accomplishments, the San Francisco-based music director has grown Sun Valley Summer Symphony events to record-setting heights during the past 17 years and worked with renowned groups the world round.
Neale's art form is his passion, period.
Still, he'd like to invite the uninitiated into the fold 3 p.m. Sunday when he conducts the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra alongside the Phoenix Symphony Chorus at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, 1100 E. Sheldon Ave., in Prescott.
"If you're really open to what it offers, it can make your pulse race, it can put you in a state of calm - it can even make you aware of something bigger than yourself," Neale said via cell phone Thursday, prior to the first of his four concerts at the helm of the Phoenix Symphony. "It takes you out of your daily routine and creates this sense of beauty that's incredibly powerful and wonderful. You should definitely give that a try."
The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra is performing Jennifer Higdon's "blue cathedral," Johannes Brahms' "The Song of Destiny" and "Nänie," which both feature the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, and Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7 in A Major."
For those already in the fold, Neale promised an engaging, nuanced concert.
"Everybody looks at a Beethoven symphony in a different way," he said. "Hopefully, I bring something to the table that surprises you, makes you look at the piece in a new and exciting and interesting way."
Neale said it's easier to do those sorts of things when you play with a group like the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.
"I've really enjoyed the rehearsals we've had together," he said. "It's a wonderful group of musicians that play with real commitment and passion. They're very responsive ... and, as a great orchestra, they'll pick up on sensitivities in the music and go with me."