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Ocala Symphony Chorus Director

11/01/2021 03:40 AM By Lisa Anderson
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Joshua L. Mazur
Joshua L. Mazur
Story & Photo by Lisa Anderson

The Conductor

Ocala Symphony Chorus Director Lives Harmoniously through the Love of Music

“I don’t think I’ve ever perceived myself as holding to [inspiration], but I do think I have felt held by it." – Joshua L. Mazur

Our community is tied by the people who bring inspiration to it, and Joshua L. Mazur has certainly brought a deep stirring of the soul to the Ocala area. Originally from Lakeland and currently a resident of Gainesville, he is the Director of Music and Digital Ministry at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church and the conductor of the Ocala Symphony Chorus. “I consider myself a servant of the orchestra that I direct the choir, as all the conductors do.”

The Art of Study

Joshua has always felt drawn to being a conductor. It’s almost easy to imagine him standing in front of the mirror as a child, waving his first baton to a soundtrack of his favorite music. Good or bad, his arms seek to follow the notes and his eyes see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing under his leadership. “I wanted to do a lot of things in music, because I have always been taken by what music can do to me and to others, when done well, and the epitome of music-making is leading it from the podium. Leading a big group of people is a thrilling thing.”

He attended the Harrison School for the Arts, which allowed for a great musical education, but not too many opportunities to conduct. “Everyone is a budding genius and a budding conductor. So, there are lots of big fish in a little pond, but I did conduct a few times. Particularly, my director allowed me to compose some music for our little chamber wind ensemble, and I did conduct them in the performance of a suite of pieces and then one other piece. After that, I knew I was hooked.

“Working under great conductors inspired me to be a great conductor,” he conveys in a modest, quiet voice.

Joshua attributes his abilities to the abundance of study material he had at Harrison and during grad school at the University of Florida (UF). He consumed everything available to him through their libraries of DVDs and CDs. “I [was] just trying to hear and see as much as I could, all while [studying] under great conductors. I saw how they [could] take a group of seemingly unrelated people, who may not be affiliated with each other otherwise, and create a cohesive group out of them. I think it was in college that I heard for the first time this idea that beautiful music-making done in large groups is greater than the sum of its parts. I saw firsthand how a bunch of amateurs, for instance, in a community band, under a great conductor, suddenly sounds more professional and is doing musical things that are profoundly unique. Whereas, under a different conductor, maybe they wouldn’t be able to do that.”

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Read the November 2021 Issue Online
Published December 1, 2021
Joshua L. Mazur
Joshua L. Mazur
Story by Lisa Anderson • Photo by Joshua L. Mazur

Musical Joy

The Conclusion of Joshua's Story

Joshua L. Mazur is a self-admitted over-thinker. Music is certainly his first love, but when life hands him bigger questions, he turns to other forms of art to help him work through the answers. He dabbles in photography, painting, and even dance. Music is his vocation, but the arts are his inspiration.

“My mother and father were avid at-home musicians. My mom sang at church all of the time. Lately, I’ve realized that experience had been a huge one for me.”

His family attended the First Baptist Church, and to Joshua, the hymns they would sing now sound similar to the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi’s music. What may seem like cheating to him now, it was the big, loud singing through large numbers that made it sound like an opera. “I think that musical experience was formative.”

His journey has always been a musical one, but how it would shape his future wasn’t crystal clear, as a child. Joshua wanted to be a professional flutist, but a hand injury made that dream impossible. In college, the composition department closed, so he decided to tackle the piano. Eventually, he switched to voice, which led to studying opera.

Joshua wasn’t prepared for the cost of singing. No, not the cost of time or sacrifice, but the actual financial cost. “There are some particular things about the business that [are] unseemly and inequitable.”

He’s referring to massive audition fees: “Paying $200 for the pleasure of auditioning for someone and only singing halfway through your aria before someone calls next.”

While he has chosen not to pursue a professional singing career for those reasons, Joshua is at peace with leading his communities through music and helping them to find comfort, joy, and peace. Whether that is with the praise and worship team at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, conducting his Gainesville community choir Capella Nova, or being a servant to the Ocala Symphony Orchestra through its standing chorus, Joshua is held by the inspiration of music.
Read the December 2021 Issue Online