A maestro in our midst

An old acquaintance of mine told me a funny story once about how she “discovered” Harry Connick, Jr.

She was in a bar in Connick’s hometown of New Orleans and listening to him perform. She was mightily impressed and told him so after his song was over – something she could do in the intimate setting of the bar they were in.

“Hey, you’re pretty good,” she told him, not realizing who he was. She had heard of Connick, but didn’t recognize the man who had already won a Grammy Award for best jazz male vocal performance thanks to his work on the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack.

Connick was gracious and said “thank you” but someone – perhaps a friendly bartender – pointed out to her who he was. She was sheepish, but not so much that she didn’t delight in telling the story when she returned to Nova Scotia.

Sometimes, you see somebody perform and you feel like your discovery is the world’s discovery.

So it was with me and the first time I watched Dinuk Wijeratne conduct the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra.

While I didn’t approach Wijeratne or the orchestra to say “Hey, you’re pretty good,” I did decide to write about them for Halifax Magazine; that article will appear in the magazine’s April issue.

The more I researched Wijeratne’s background, the more I realized what a virtuoso he is. It was his work as a conductor that prompted me to write about him, but his talents are more diverse than that.

We are fortunate to have him plying his craft here in Nova Scotia. If you haven’t watched him play the piano, conduct, or seen one of his compositions brought to life off the page, then you must change that.

To get a sense of Wijeratne and what he and the NSYO can do, watch this video.

Now, go “discover” him like I did. The NSYO and Symphony Nova Scotia will be performing a joint concert at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Feb. 17.