Entertainment » Vol. 21

An Interview with Eric Culver, Music Director of the Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra

ent-music-eric-culver-phot-copyBy Bruce Mendelsohn

Eric Culver, who has been at the College of the Holy Cross since 1998, serves as the Music Director of the school’s Chamber Orchestra ~ in addition to playing piano, continuo, and harpsichord. We caught up with energetic and multi-talented Maestro to find out more about his life-long relationship with music and to hear his thoughts on Worcester’s classical music scene.

As is the case with many artists ~ be they musicians, actors, painters, etc. ~ Culver seems to have known from the womb that music would play a significant role in his life: “My fate from birth was to be a musician. My namesake is Erich Leinsdorf of the Rochester Philharmonic, the symphony in which my parents performed. As soon as I got my hands on a piano I was hooked. Music’s taken me across the world, and everywhere I was surrounded by music and tone. My career ‘choice’ was inevitable.”

“Across the world” is not an exaggeration. Culver has played piano in Palestine and harpsichord in Hebron, and has conducted at England’s Clark University and in Guatemala City. So how did this pianist wind up a conductor as well? “I started conducting in high school and a series of fateful meetings led me to Tanglewood and the New England Conservatory of Music, and finally here. I like conducting because the orchestra repertory is fascinating.”

Talking to Culver, I got the sense that this is a man whose musical appetite is voracious and varied, and indeed it is. He shares that “…I love opera, symphony and world music. My favorite artists are Mahler, Sebelius, Stravinsky ~ big orchestra stuff. Music’s not just in my head, it’s in my blood.”

When asked about the teaching component of his position at Holy Cross, Culver shares that he is passionate about working with students, and is “…concerned about all the tragic cuts in music programs [that] reduce our kids’ exposure to classical music…music is meaningful because it’s a shared experience, and I want to inspire in young people a love of classical music.” Culver, who treasures the experiences he had studying under some of the greats in modern classical music, including Robert Cogan, Richard Pittman, and Laszlo Halasz, hopes that he channels their lessons and profound respect for and love of music into his lectures and performances, inspiring students and audience members alike.

The only musician on the Board of Directors of Music Worcester, Culver brings a unique perspective to the organization devoted to keeping classical music alive in Central MA. “The people involved in Music Worcester recognize that our audiences are dwindling, but I’m optimistic because a good music series can’t exist without a good hall, and Mechanics Hall [where almost all of Music Worcester’s performances are held] is a great venue. I believe there are enough educated people locally to sustain a robust classical music scene. I think our biggest challenges are getting direction and momentum to advance classical music here. ”

Catch Eric Culver performing all six Brandenburg Concertos with the Holy Cross Chamber Orchestra on April 27th at the College’s Brooks Hall. The performance begins at 7pm.
Bruce Mendelsohn resides in Auburn and is CEO of The Hired Pen, www.the-hired-pen.com.

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