Douglaston composer honored with worldwide day of music

By Kevin Zimmerman

Douglaston composer Jim Cohn will be feted this weekend with three concerts on two continents, all taking place in one day.

Things get underway Sunday at 10 a.m.—Eastern Daylight Time—in Ghent, Belgium, with a performance of six of Cohn’s compositions arranged by Guido Six, director of the Claribel Clarinet Choir in Oostend, Belgium.

“He has said that he loves Jim’s music and would like to arrange everything for a clarinet choir,” Eileen Cohn said.

Although the Cohns will not be making the trek to that show, they have been to Belgium on three occasions for other performances of his work, including a world premiere of a piece written specifically for clarinets.

“Twelve of Jim’s groupies came with us on that trip,” his wife said.

Closer to home, the Metis Concert Series kicks off its new season with an afternoon of classical music by the Velveteen String Quartet, including the United States premiere of Cohn’s “String Quartet,” at the Community Church of Little Neck scheduled for 3 p.m.

Rounding out this unofficial Jim Cohn Day, the Queensboro Symphony Orchestra begins its new season, which includes the New York premiere in Flushing at 7 p.m. of Cohn’s Symphony No. 4.

Although a Newark native, Cohn has called northeast Queens home for most of his 87 years.

He has been playing and composing music for nearly as long.

“I took violin lessons as a kid, and I also studied the trombone,” Jim Cohn said.

Cohn attended the Juilliard School of Music, where he received two degrees in composition.

His catalog includes an eclectic mix of pieces written for solo performers, chamber musicians and choral groups. He has also dabbled in musical theater, composing “KATrina — The Enchanted Cat,” which premiered at Theatre by the Bay in Bay Terrace.

“Voltaire had a saying,” Jim Cohn said, “the style is the man.”

But if pressed to pick his favorite style of music, without hesitating he says it is those pieces written for a full symphony that give him the most pleasure.

“My love has been the symphony orchestra,” Jim Cohn said.

And he continues to write new pieces, which he hopes touches his audience’s emotional needs and not just their intellectual ones. By putting the right notes together, he tries to touch the listener’s heart.

“Music is like cooking. You can make it sweet or sour,” Cohn said. “I like to mix it together so as not to cause people to run to the exit.”

Reach News Editor Kevin Zimmerman by e-mail at kzimmerman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4541.

If You Go

Velveteen String Quartet

When: Sunday, Sept. 27, at 3 pm

Where: Community Church of Little Neck, 46-16 Little Neck Parkway

Cost: $15-$25

Contact: (718) 229-2534

Queensboro Symphony Orchestra

When: Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7 pm

Where: Mary’s Nativity Church, 46-02 Parsons Blvd., Flushing

Cost: Free will offering

Contact: (718) 359-5996

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