The kickoff of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra's 40th
season opened Saturday night with a blockbuster.
If you were one of the fortunate 400 people in the Boutell
concert hall I don't need to tell you that the guest performer
of the night-young Miss Emily Baer, a renowned pianist/composer/song
writer, was spellbinding with her performance and delightful
personality. She exuded enthusiasm, displaying her boundless
energy and talent unequalled at any of the past concerts I have
Seated at the front of the stage at the grand piano, the
15-year-old prodigy played three of her own compositions, written
for the full orchestra. The first was "Santa Fe" produced
when she was 10-years-old, then "The Bravest Journey"
she composed and orchestrated at age 13. The third, "Les
Voyages," completed at age 12, earned her the ASCAP 2015
Young Composer of the Year Award. For her grand finale on stage
she played George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," like
I've never heard it before.
You could tell that conductor Linc Smelzer, as well as
the entire 85 piece orchestra was thrilled to be performing
Concert pianist Emily Bear flanked by Kishwaukee Syphony
conductor Linc Smelser and his wife, concertmaster Ann Montzka-Smelser.
onstage with her. Their evenings' performance was likewise
Many in the audience had not read of her accomplishments-making
her professional debut at the Ravinia Festival at age 5; then
at age 6 she was the youngest rising star to ever receive the
Morton Gould Young composer award. Orchestras all over the world
have been performing her brilliant compositions ever since. She
has appeared at the Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie
Hall, Ravinia, and at the White House. Her concerts have attracted
large adoring audiences across America and throughout Europe
and Asia. She was recently commissioned to arrange her own composition
to be performed by 25 pianists at the same time. The list of
her TV appearances is too long to detail here.
Known primarily as a classical artist, she also has a love
for jazz. Her young talent attracted the attention of the famous
Quincy Jones who has become her mentor. Jones says of her: "She
is the most delightful human being I've ever met in my life
I am at once astounded and inspired by the enormous talent that
. She plays like she is 40 years old
are no limits to the musical heights she can reach.
It is interesting to learn she was raised in nearby Rockford,
Illinois where she is both home schooled and also takes classes
at her local high school. Her talent was first recognized at
the age of 2 by her grandmother who is an accomplished pianist
in her own right.
Emily's next appearance will be November 19 when she performs
in honor of her mentor Quincy Jones at the Los Angeles Society
Tribute to him in Hollywood.
It was exciting to see and hear her up close in DeKalb
Saturday night. She ended the evening signing copies of her CDs
for concertgoers who were also enjoying slices of a large 40th