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June 20, 1986 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-20

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f Murray Gross has his
way, he will show that
Muskegon is not just a
factory town, but a cultural center as
Gross, 30, is actively involved in
the cultural life of this western
Michigan city. With its chamber or-
chestra, he appears in joint music and
art lecture programs and in chamber
music concerts. He also is a pianist
and accompanist. But it is in his role
as music director and conductor of the
West Shore (Mich.) Symphony Or-
chestra where he is making his
greatest impact.
Just last month, Gross received
national recognition for his work from
the American Symphony Orchestra
League, which awarded him its Helen
M. Thompson Award "for his four
years of commitment to the artistic
growth of the West Shore Symphony
Orchestra and for his outstanding
leadership in the community."
The league, which will have its
41st national conference June 25-28
at the Westin Hotel in Detroit, honors
young music directors and managers
of orchestras which hold membership
in the league. (During the conference,
only Thursday night's Meadow Brook
concert is open to the public.)
Although Gross won't be in De-
troit to accept the award because of a
conducting commitment elsewhere,
Gross is no stranger to Detroit. In
1980 and 1981, he held the Antal
Dorati Conducting Fellowship with,
the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His
duties included conducting educa-
tional and children's concerts and
coaching singers and choruses for
operatic and choral performances.
The next season, he returned to
the DSO as assistant conductor, serv-
ing as assistant to music director
Dorati. In that capacity, he covered
all concerts and rehearsals of the DSO
and conducted numerous community,
pops and children's concerts, was
assistant producer of symphony
broadcasts and responsible for or-
chestra auditions and recordings.
While under Dorati's tutelage,
Gross had the opportunity to observe
many guest conductors of note. He
called that opportunity "valuable. It
was the first professional job I had as
a conductor."
Since appearing with the DSO,
Gross was the guest conductor of the
Denver Chamber Orchestra, the
Fresno Philharmonic, the Interna-
tional Bartok Festival in Hungary
and the Cheyenne Symphony Or-


Friday, June 20, 1986

Conductor Murray Gross is a leading force
in Muskegon's cultural life.


Local News Editor

Does he pattern himself after any
other conductor? Yes and no. "I'm not
really big on mentors," Gross said, but
admits to picking up pointers from
leaders in the field. Besides observing
the top orchestra conductors, Gross
studied with Charles Bruck at the
Pierre Monteux Domaine School in
Hancock, Maine, and with Otto-
Werner Mueller, James Dixon and
Rainer Miedel at the Conductors'
Guild Summer Institute. In 1978-
1980, Gross received a Deutscher
Akademischer Austauchdienst grant
to study with the Hochschule fur
Musik in Munich. There he coached
opera productions and conducted the
Hochschule orchestra.
He also was chosen to participate
in a workshop with conductor Michael
Tilson Thomas, sponsored by the Buf-
falo Philharmonic.
Today, the Dayton, Ohio, native
is the full-time music director and
conductor of an orchestra with a
budget of $300,000. His job is multi-
faceted: he chooses the symphony's
repertoire, hires the players and sol-
oists, gives talks to community groups
and participates in long-range plan-
ning. He finds his work very gratify-
"I'm very happy being with the
West Shore Symphony," he said, "I
want to stay here longer." However,
he aspires someday to greater
heights. "I'm ambitious. I hope to
change orchestras and go to a larger
Gross received his formal train-
ing at the Interlochen Arts Academy,
where he majored in composition and
conducting and at the New England
Conservatory of Music, where he fo-
cused on piano, composition and con-
ducting. Gross holds a Bachelor of
Music degree in composition and a
Master of Music degree in conducting
from the Oberlin Conservatory of
In addition to his piano and con-
ducting talents, Gross also counts the
clarinet in his musical repertoire. In
Muskegon, he appears in chamber
music concerts as a clarinetist.
His work as a composer has
achieved acclaim. Gross received a
Broadcast Music Award, awards from
the Ohio and National Federation of
Music Clubs and a fellowship to the
Vermont Composer's Conference.
Gross' pieces have been performed
professionally and some have been
heard over National Public Radio. He
also has a three-record set of works by
Anthony Braxton to his credit.
On a communal scale, Gross ad-

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