The Peabody Post

Conducting Students Spend Spring Break at Carnegie Hall

Five students of Peabody professor and Director of Graduate Conducting Marin Alsop spent their spring break in New York City, attending Maestra Alsop’s rehearsals and March 25 concert with the American Composers Orchestra in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, which featured a number of world and New York premieres by composers Lisa Bielawa, Anna Clyne, Hanna Kendall, Paula Matthusen, and Dai Wei. The students participated in a round table discussion with all five of the featured women composers and also explored the Leonard Bernstein archives at the New York Philharmonic. Several of the students reflected on their experience and shared snapshots with the Peabody Post.

Getting off the train at Penn Station in New York, I am instantly overwhelmed by the unique atmosphere of the city. There is no moment to stop and everything is moving so fast. Our first day included two rehearsals—morning rehearsal with only strings and afternoon rehearsal with a full orchestra. The rehearsals took place at Boulevard Carroll Rehearsal Studio in midtown. We were so lucky to observe our teacher Marin Alsop working with the ACO so closely. We also met three of the five composers whose pieces are programmed for the performance in Carnegie Hall. Any first rehearsal tends to be a little tense and timid, but Marin’s energy and some laughs from the orchestra helped create an efficient rehearsal. Cannot wait for the performance on Friday night!

— Ryo Hasegawa, MM candidate

It is so inspiring watching Marin Alsop rehearse this intricate and varied program. It is also incredibly impressive how quickly the musicians of this orchestra are able to bring all this difficult new music to life! The interactions between the composers, the orchestra musicians, and Marin are so fascinating. The room is filled with so much wonder and possibility. There is such a strong energy of collaborative exploration. It feels like anything is possible with this group!

After a full day of rehearsals, the composers sat with us for a group discussion about the world of new music and orchestras. The relationship that a composer has with the performers premiering their work can be very complicated, especially with a large orchestral work. Having this open and honest conversation with composers about navigating all the intricacies of commissions, premieres, logistics, rehearsals, etc., was very informative and inspiring. I hope I can build many wonderfully collaborative partnerships with composers and orchestras as I pursue my career in conducting.

One more day until Carnegie Hall, I can’t wait!

— Jotaro Nakano, DMA candidate

Ever wondered how it would feel to peer into the mind of a long gone master? To witness the markings of Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein upon scores, noting changes and comments on performances past? Our studio answered this query as we started our day at the New York Philharmonic archives with scores upon scores of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Schubert once owned by the likes of Bernstein and Mahler. We also perused old programs—including one of the first concerts done back in the 1840s!—rehearsal notes, and other fascinating historical items. The archives even had boxes of batons and pencils left by the masters themselves.

After the archives, we made a brief stop at the Juilliard store and headed toward Boosey & Hawkes for a unique and enlightening listening session with two of the classical music publisher’s staff, Elizabeth Blaufox and Aya Terki. Not only did we hear some of Boosey & Hawkes’ new composers but we also had a discussion about the state of the industry, the publisher’s role as it pertains to conductors, and the future of classical music as a whole. Thank you, Boosey & Hawkes.

As we entered Zankel Hall, the moment had arrived. The musicians were primed, the stage was set, and the audience teemed with the energy one can only feel before a performance. For us, we were about to witness the finality of both the composers’ and the musicians’ work. As Marin Alsop took the stage and fired up the orchestra, we knew this concert was going to be superb. A magnificent way to end a terrific, music-filled week.

— Jorge Ruvalcaba, MM candidate