For final concert of 2016-17 season, Downey Symphony turns to Beethoven

 Benjamin Lash, a talented 26-year-old cellist, will perform at the April 8 concert at the Downey Theatre.

Benjamin Lash, a talented 26-year-old cellist, will perform at the April 8 concert at the Downey Theatre.

DOWNEY – Beethoven’s mighty “Symphony no. 5,” a brilliant young cellist, and a complimentary champagne reception will make for a memorable end-of-season concert by the Downey Symphony on April 8 at the Downey Theatre.  

Rounding out the evening are Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” (the familiar “Lone Ranger” theme) and an orchestral version of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” conducted by this year’s baton winner, Downey resident Terry Wright.  

The opening rhythm of Beethoven’s 5th—short, short, short, long; short, short, short, long—happen to be the same as the Morse code for the letter “V.”  In World War II, that stood for “Victory,” and the symphony became the unofficial anthem of the Allies.  Even people who have never been to a classical concert recognize and love this music.  

Benjamin Lash, a 26-year-old Chicago native, began playing cello at the age of 6.  By his teen years, he had already won many competitions and performed various cello concertos.  He came to Los Angeles to study with a great cello teacher at the Colburn School and is now finishing a doctorate at USC.  

Lash loves the cello because “it has so many possibilities, a huge range of pitch but also various musical colors.”  

He’ll be playing Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.”  He notes that the piece starts with “a charming theme, and then Tchaikovsky finds unique different musical characters for each variation, showing off the cello’s range beautifully.” 

Lash plays a cello made in Italy around 1850 that has a rich and resonant tone.  He aims to pursue a career with many sides—performing, teaching, playing in ensembles as well as solo.  He’ll also be performing at the annual concert for all Downey fifth graders, which takes place on April 5.

Terry Wright is a long-time Downey resident who won the auction for the baton at last April’s concert. Working with Music Director Sharon Lavery, she chose an orchestral version of on section of Bach’s renowned cantata, with its very beautiful peaceful and lyrical melody.  

The Symphony will once again auction the baton at this concert, so patrons should come ready to be inspired by Terry Wright and make their own bid to conduct the orchestra next April.

The Symphony is also celebrating Maestra Lavery’s 10th season conducting the orchestra.  She ranks among the best local conductors and has brought great music to thousands of adults and children in Downey.  The audience will be invited to raise a toast to her and to congratulate the orchestra at a complimentary champagne reception in the Theatre patio following the concert.

With the Downey Arts Coalition, the Symphony also organizes an exhibit of work by local artists at each concert.  The theme for this show is “Earth Recycled,” and artists will feature recycled materials.  

Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Maestra Lavery will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15 pm. The concert begins at 8 pm.  

Tickets are $35 or $30 depending on seating section and are available at or by calling the Theatre Box Office at (562) 861-8211 or in person (open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and beginning at 6:30 pm Saturday).  

Free parking adjacent to the Theatre at Firestone and Brookshire Ave.