What an evening: gorgeous weather, full moon, terrific location, tons of people having a great time. Check, check, check and check… oh yeah, add great music with an orchestra on fire, and presto, you have the makings of a fantastic evening. I want to thank everyone for attending and showing their support for these musicians who I am honoured to lead and to call my friends. It was an amazing evening in so many other ways as well. Orchestra Iowa launched the release of our very first commercial recording featuring our commission of Michael Daugherty’s American Gothic. What I wanted to share with you on this blog, however, is something amazing that happened behind the scenes after the concert in private. Waiting for me backstage was a lovely couple, John and Patrice Winkel. They were so inspired by the evening, that they gave me an autographed baton of Leonard Bernstein’s—made all the more special as much of the music we played that night was written by him. I want to express my undying gratitude to John and Patrice and in the next few months I will mount this wonderful piece over the bar in Opus for everyone to appreciate—I think Lenny would approve. So much to be grateful for last night, that my head is still swimming. And how about our guest artist Kevin Deas? My God what a voice, and take it from me, they don’t come any better! He is as gracious a human being as his voice is transcendent…and WE got to have him for this perfect evening. I love it when we can begin our season like this. Thank you for being there.