A look into a few weeks as an Assistant Conductor
These three weeks at Artis–Naples epitomize the many hats that must be worn by an Assistant Conductor.
A week and a half ago I was finishing up a run of 26 performances of the Snow Queen, an educational program for young students. The following weekend I had a concert with a string orchestra subset of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and rehearsed the full orchestra in a different program. This past week I was busy as a cover and assistant to Maestro Andrey Boreyko and pianist Emanuel Ax, on a very challenging program of Also Sprach Zarathustra and Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2. Today, I have a youth orchestra rehearsal, followed by something completely different: Baroque Music. The orchestra must completely morph sound worlds tonight in preparation for our Baroque concert on Tuesday night, with music by Purcell, Mozart, and Schnittke, joined by soprano Shannon Mercer and the Naples Philharmonic Chorus. On Thursday we switch gears again to perform a program of favorites by the great Broadway legacy Jerry Herman (on one rehearsal), and then on Halloween we have a wonderful Halloween Spooktacular planned, also on one rehearsal. And of course, on the Halloween concert, I will not only be conducting the program, but also acting as a host, with jokes, costume switches, and I'll even break out into a juggling routine on stage (I hope I don't drop any of the balls!).
So in the span of a few weeks, I conduct four different concert programs, prepare a fifth, and will have covered a sixth. It doesn't get much crazier than this, but it also doesn't slow down by much during this season.
It is super to be a young conductor and get so many opportunities to conduct a fine orchestra like the Naples Philharmonic. I learn so much from the artists and of course Music Director Andrey Boreyko. Each time he is here, I am so impressed by his musicality, musicianship, ears, and abilities. He brings out the best from the orchestra, and I am grateful to learn from his experience and leadership both on the podium and off. I absorb as much from him as possible, and then in the intervening weeks when I am leading the orchestra, one of my major duties is to continue his work, and to try to "listen with his ears" and continue to shape the orchestra's sound in his mold.
Welcome to Assisting 101!