World Premiere of Cello Concerto by Barry Brisk

Conductor/Composer Barry Brisk (l) , seen here with Topanga Symphony Conductor Jerome Kessler (r) , is a long-time member of the Symphony (viola). He dedicates his Cello Concerto to Kessler, also a master cellist, who will be performing the piece with Brisk leading the orchestra. Photo by Tom Mitchell

On Sunday March 8, at 3 p.m., the Topanga Symphony will present a world premiere of conductor/composer Barry Brisk’s Cello Concerto performed by Topanga Symphony Music Director, Conductor, and maestro cellist Jerome Kessler. This is the 37th season of free concerts at the Topanga Community Club. 

Brisk will be guest conductor leading the musicians in his latest work written especially for his friend and colleague, cellist Kessler. 

Brisk will begin the afternoon of classical music by conducting the Overture to Euryanthe by Carl Maria von Weber.   

Following the intermission, Kessler will conduct Symphony No. 6 in D, Op. 60 by Antonin Dvorak.  

Brisk is a native of Los Angeles. He first conducted in public at age 14 at his junior high school graduation from Webster Jr. High School in West Los Angeles. At the age of 20 he went on to study with the prominent conducting pedagogue, Hans Swarowsky (teacher of Zubin Mehta and Claudio Abbado), at the Vienna Academy, where he graduated. He has since conducted in Austria, Mexico, and throughout the southland. After 25 years as Music Director of the Beach Cities Symphony (in Torrance, CA) he retired in May 2019, after 100 concerts and 800 rehearsals.

Brisk is a much-loved member of the Topanga Symphony having played viola with the orchestra since 1992. He has conducted with Kessler as cello soloist on many concerts with both the Topanga Symphony and the Beach Cities Symphony. The Topanga Symphony has also performed three of his compositions, Serenade for Orchestra, Andante and Allegro for Strings, and the Concerto for Trombone and Strings.

Brisk muses about the inspiration for his Cello Concerto: “As Jerry and I had worked together on many projects, it occurred to me in 2018 to compose a concerto for him. Jerry was kind enough to go along with the idea, even though he had no idea what the piece would be like. I wrote music to his strengths. The first movement is lyrical, giving him the opportunity to glow with his beautiful, enveloping tone quality; he can make a simple scale soar. The second movement (Finale) shows off his technical facility with quick bowing, left-hand pizzicato, tremolos, and harmonics.” 

In anticipation of his performance in this world premiere of Brisk’s Cello Concerto, Kessler said, “This is very exciting to have the opportunity for the orchestra and me to play, and for the audience to hear the premiere of a new work, one which I hope will soon take its place in the standard concert repertoire. Not only is it well written from a technical point of view, but more importantly, the Cello Concerto is musically worthy, a work to which the soloist, the orchestra and the audience can all relate. I hope everyone comes out to join us on March 8 and share in a special musical adventure.”



The Topanga Symphony is a non-profit community orchestra that has performed three free concerts a year in the Santa Monica Mountains since 1982. These free, high-quality classical concerts are made possible by generous donations from LA County Third District Supervisor, Sheila Kuehl, the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, and community members and businesses.  


For more information and to support the Topanga Symphony, visit and become a Friend of the Topanga Symphony.  


1 Comment
  1. Well, . . someone should leave a comment. Lst me be the first. To Barry with heart felt memories, from a French Horn Player that was 23 years old, going on 13 and grew up in one year at Fort Ord admiring your musical talent. I got a telephone call from another fellow musician from that era and both of us put you at the top of our list. As I am currently recovering from reconstructive surgery of my right knee I told him that I thought I could find you on the internet, so he also asked me to forward his best wishes. You had a very good impact on people that now take the time to say, . . Thank you.

    Craig Lee

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