M Milwaukees Lifestyle Magazine July 2012 : Page 74

Richard Hynson | MUSICAL DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR | Draw a picture. Write a poem. Sing a song. Richard Hynson, music director and conductor of the Bel Canto Chorus, insists that the creative pro-cess, often stifled in adulthood, “is like food, like water, like air — not for the body, but for the mind.” As Hynson prepares for his 25th season with Bel Canto, Milwaukee’s oldest continuously perform-ing arts group, he urges everyone to engage their own artistic potential. “We all have our song inside ourselves, and if we don’t give ourselves that voice, we are forever stunted as people,” he says. “Our community needs to re-energize with the idea that art is something we need to flourish. I feel it is essential to our survival as a civilized society.” Last year, to mark the 10th year since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bel Canto Chorus collaborated with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra (where Hynson also serves as music director) to present “United We Stand.” The free concert at Cathedral Square Park before an audience of 4,000 featured Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” and Mozart’s “Requiem.” The music, Hynson says, was intended to “give emotional voice to the community.” A composer and arranger himself, Hynson says his role as conductor is to “be an advocate for the composer,” interpreting the blueprint of the score. “The conductor is like a magnifying glass,” he says, focusing energy into “one powerful vision that can set the audience on fire.” The connection between the performers and the audience in a live concert, he says, is “impossible to replicate.” The chorus has performed to critical acclaim in South America, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, England, Ireland and Wales. At home, Hynson and Bel Canto members are impassioned ambassadors of the arts to young people, seniors and the public through the organization’s outreach and educational efforts. Hynson says the challenge for him, and every art-ist in America, is to convince the general public that art is not an elitist undertaking, but a necessary ele-ment of life: “The reality is that fine art says what we feel in ways we didn’t know we could understand.” 74 M | July 2012

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