Conversation with a Conductor: Marin Alsop
Bravo! Vail artistic director Anne-Marie McDermott sits down with one of the world's finest conductors
Special to the Daily
Marin Alsop is a true inspiration. As one of the foremost conductors in the world, she is the first woman to serve as head of a major orchestra — not only in the United States, but also in South America, Austria, and Britain.
Her current roles range from Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, to Conductor of Honour with Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Laureate at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, where she served for 14 years as Music Director.
Marin also mentors and helps develop the careers of female conductors through the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship she founded in 2002 — recently renamed the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship.
Marin returns to Bravo! Vail on July 26 to guest-conduct the New York Philharmonic’s closing concert, probably the most anticipated one of our entire Festival. Pianist Yunchan Lim, only 19 years old, will reprise his already legendary gold medal-winning performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 from the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The program also includes one of the finest dance scores ever written—Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet Suite” — with Sousa’s lively “The Stars and Stripes Forever” leading the evening.
I had the great pleasure of discussing with Marin her Bravo! Vail appearance, the incredible New York Philharmonic program, Yunchan Lim, her thoughts on the current climate for women, and more. Below is an edited excerpt of that discussion.
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Anne-Marie: I am so excited to be welcoming you back to Bravo! Vail Music Festival. You conducted the New York Philharmonic the last time you were with us. What are you looking forward to this time?
Marin: Seeing you, firstly, and being back in the beautiful nature in Vail. I’ve always loved conducting there — great audiences and lovely to be outdoors!
Anne-Marie: So much has happened in our world since your last appearance here, and what an influential role you have played. Congratulations, by the way, on having your name added to the prestigious Taki Alsop conducting fellowship for women! What inspires and/or worries you most about the current climate?
Marin: Thank you for your kind words and support. I am immeasurably proud of the fellowship and the incredible community that has formed amongst these wonderfully talented women conductors. While we are all hopeful that progress toward equal representation and opportunity will continue, we see the violent backlash that has already stripped away many fundamental rights from women.
Anne-Marie: When you conduct the New York Philharmonic on July 26, the audience will hear music written by Sergei Prokofiev, which was intended for a ballet version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.” I understand you present the scenes in an order of your own choosing. What can you tell us about that?
Marin: I try to follow the narrative while inserting some lesser-known excerpts from the full ballet score —one of my favorite scores of all time.
Anne-Marie: Your return to Bravo! Vail also marks a reunion for you with last year’s sensational winner of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, pianist Yunchan Lim. I was honored to serve on the jury for the competition with you. What comes to mind as you approach the concert here?
Marin: It was a true joy to serve with you and our esteemed colleagues on the jury for the Cliburn. How marvelous to be surrounded by outstanding artists whose sole mission was to listen with open minds and hearts and support young talent!
While we were committed to never discussing the candidates, I can’t help remembering the looks on your faces after Yunchan played all 12 of the Liszt Transcendental Etudes! Mind-blowing for sure… but, for me, it was the poetry of his Beethoven Third Piano Concerto that won my heart.
To hear more discussion between Marin Alsop and Anne-Marie McDermott, please join us for Bravo! Vail’s Inside the Music event. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. Please visit BravoVail.org for more information.
Anne-Marie McDermott is the artistic director for Bravo! Vail.