The Nashville Symphony’s concerts this weekend will take on an unusual layer of poignancy. They’re dedicated to composer Stephen Paulus, who died last month just days after the orchestra released an album of his music.
The composer suffered a massive stroke in the summer of 2013, midway through production of the album, and he’d never really recovered. So the news of his death wasn’t exactly a surprise. Still, conductor Giancarlo Guerrero says it was a hard loss to bear.
“I’ve known Stephen since I was the associate conductor in Minnesota,” he says. “I mean, I’ve known him for over 15 years and he was always very supportive of me, and I knew when I became music director of the Nashville Symphony that he would be one of the first composers I would champion.”
Guerrero says he learned of Paulus’ death just before boarding a nine-hour flight. By the time he landed, he’d settled on using the requiem already scheduled for this weekend’s concerts as a sort of memorial to Stephen Paulus. And he says the orchestra’s musicians agreed to add to the program a piece from their Paulus album that seems all too appropriate. The Veil of Tears was written to be a remembrance of the dead.