Upper Crust: Lima Symphony Orchestra conductor thrives on music
LIMA – One might assume that a conductor spent his childhood raised by parents or guardians, composers and classical musicians.
We would be wrong in the case of Andrew Crust.
The musical director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra had family ties with only one music maker: his stepfather, Terry, who performed in orchestras.
Nonetheless, Crust’s mother and father had a tremendous influence in shaping the sonic form of his future.
âI thank my parents for exposing me to a range of styles – from Nina Simone to Mozart to Led Zeppelin to Vivaldi,â said the 34-year-old Kansas native.
The Beatles records were among those that often played loudly with him.
âMaybe that’s why I love the sound of a full symphony orchestra,â he says.
In fact, it was his father’s old trumpet that became the ânatural and economicalâ instrument of choice for Crust, who joined a school group in fifth grade. This was a sign of things to come, as he participated in the high school pit orchestra, marching band, and jazz orchestra, picking up a French horn along the way.
These activities only whet Crust’s appetite. He began composing music through Finale, a notation software, performed at open mic parties in the Kansas City Jazz District, and performed for change.
His musical education was mostly self-guided, he explains, and he knows the precise moment when he discovered the harmonic series.
“I noticed that a plane above me was making a sound that sounded like several notes, a chord,” he said, adding that it was only at university that he learned the physics involved.
Soon after, Crust’s curiosity and desire to travel took hold: he traveled through the United States, Europe, and Canada, earning a master’s degree from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Previously, he studied music education at Wichita State University.
âEvery classical musician should spend as much time as possible in Europe. Spending time in Germany, Italy or France gives you context to shape your interpretation, âhe explained.
When Crust finally arrived in Lima around February 2020, his connection to the community was instantaneous, according to Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, executive director of LSO.
âAndrew has stood out as a top contender, and working with him in person is a statement of everything we had hoped for,â she said. âHe offered more than just exceptional podium skills (conductor).
This is why he was ultimately selected – in a process that began in early 2018 – out of 200 applicants to stand in front of the orchestra.
The dozen or so members of LSO’s search committee had reduced hopes to eight finalists, of whom Crust emerged as the last standing maestro. LSO’s extended criteria involved Zoom interviews, spending a week in Lima, and conducting the orchestra at a concert. Musicians and community members rated each finalist, Brown-Ellis said via email.
âAndrew has shown a real interest in knowing more about Lima,â she said. “This week it wasn’t about selling yourself.”
Crust was impressed with the thoroughness of LSO’s assessment and hiring process.
âIt was really well planned,â he said.
The two sides were auditioning each other, Crust explained, and he felt a connection.
Ultimately, Crust believes it’s imperative to work with orchestras that have the right priorities.
âWhat type of programming is relevant and powerful for the local audience? How to reach young people? Is there potential for growth? He asked. “All these things I found in Lima.”
Saying that Brown-Ellis appreciates Crust is like saying the Grand Canyon is big.
âAndrew honored and built on our traditions while bringing new ideas and vitality to our orchestra,â she said. âIts programming is dynamic, inclusive and exciting. “
Black History Month in February 2022 is something Crust looks forward to, as LSO will host a concert featuring a trio of black composers and a soprano, followed by a slam poet.
âAs an orchestra we are only getting stronger artistically,â he said.
Crust’s self-proclaimed âembarrassment of wealthâ includes an array of rewards, though there isn’t one specific honor he cherishes more than others. What matters most is the music itself.
âJust having the chance to make it my career is my greatest achievement,â he said. âThe good thing about music is that there is no end. There is always more to learn, more ways to grow, discover new composers and hone your skills.
Andrew Crust, musical director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra, said his greatest achievement is the fact that his career is making music.
Contact James Luksic at 567-242-0399.