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Renowned Composer to Direct Symphony in Memory of Summit Man

Dr. Robert W. Butts to hold performance at College of Saint Elizabeth on April 27.

Dr. Robert W. Butts (Contributed photo)
Dr. Robert W. Butts (Contributed photo)
A renowned composer will direct his first symphony in honor of a Summit man who died in the October 2011 snowstorm.

Dr. Robert W. Butts, founder, conductor and artistic director of The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, will premiere the symphony in memory of Joshua Plaut on Sunday, April 27 in Dolan Hall at the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Plaut, 42, died on Nov. 22, 2011 of complications from a snowstorm-related injury he suffered on Oct. 29, 2011, according to his obituary.

Plaut graduated from Summit High School, Yale University with honors and Columbia University Law School where he was the editor of the Environmental Law Journal. Plaut was also a member of Yale's Ivy League champion lacrosse team during his freshman year.

He and his wife, Lena Kim, were married in 1999 and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Plaut, who once served as a press aide for New York Sen. Charles Schumer, was an associate in the New York law firm of Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati and had been named a Rising Star Attorney in New York.

"In all his endeavors, Josh established deep-seated and productive relationships," his father, Jonathan Plaut, said. "He was a master at communication and strategic thinking."  Josh loved classical music. A few months before his death, he attended, with his wife, Lena, and his parents, Anne and Jon, a joyous weekend at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony."

The Plaut family requested Butts compose a symphony in Josh's memory. Butts, who has a large following throughout the metropolitan area, is known for his expertise and creativity in many musical fields. 

Butts is a faculty member at Montclair State University, College of Saint Elizabeth and Drew University, where his mini-courses on all aspects of music and composers have been popular for years.

Butts has been a finalist in Orchestral Composition for The American Prize; finalist and/or second-place winner of The American Prize for Orchestra and Opera Conducting; and two-time finalist for the Leo Traynor Composition for New Music Award.

"Composing is such an exciting and thrilling, yet mysterious process," Butts said. "The symphony has been the primary form for orchestral composition for almost 300 years, and the most profound and deep musical thoughts emanate from it. I have studied the composers whose symphonic work I most admire, primarily Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius and Shostakovich. In the end, I was inspired by all of them, but the greatest challenge was Beethoven."

Tickets for the concert, which begins at 3 p.m. on April 27, can be purchased on the orchestra’s website, www.baroqueorchestra.org; by calling the office at 973-366-8922 or at the door the day of the concert. Tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for seniors and $5 for students under 22 with ID.

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