Marzena’s Update: 2015, Quite an Amazing Year

Time is passing so fast and the year is behind me. 2015 was quite an amazing year for me, I have to say.

At the beginning of 2015, nothing foretold the big changes that would take place in my life but, as always, I was searching for opportunities to show myself here and there. As usual I was working hard on scores, teaching my students at the Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw as well as possible, giving them 100% of my knowledge.

Sometimes we have to work months and years without any result.  Despite my efforts, I had few orchestral conducting opportunities.  Nevertheless, I was always giving 200 percent during concerts, working to understand the music better and better – finaly some doors opened, and everything I had invested came back to me with great results.


Marzena with Emmanuel Ax and Andre Previn at the Tanglewood Music Festival

In May 2015, I got an invitation to the Tanglewood Music Festival,  the very place I had read about in music history books, with all the legendary conductors, composers, and important musical works I had read about that had been associated with this great festival.  I spent two hardworking months there, sharing rehearsal time with another great Tanglewood Conducting Fellow and Taki Concordia Conducting Fellow, Ruth Reinhardt.

But just before I was to fly to Massachusets to attend the Tanglewood Festival, I recieved a call from Marin Alsop— an amazing idol for all of us women conductors— who was awarding me the Taki Concordia Conducting Associate Fellowship!  This opportunity also came with the possibility of meeting Marin Alsop in person later in September in London where I would spend time with her as she prepared the Last Night of the Proms with BBC Orchestra.  Exciting!

And again, one Thursday in the same month of May 2015, I got a phone call from France asking if I would like to go to Paris and compete for the Assistant Conductor position at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. What a question— of course I wanted to audition!  But they were calling me only four days before the competition!  Though the OPRF had contacted me earlier, due to some email server problems, I didnt get any emails sent to me for several weeks before.   For better or worse, I had rehearsals in Amiens, 200km from Paris, the same day as the audition which had been planned a year before!  The day of the audition, a Monday, was a very long day!  Here’s what the schedule looked like:
9 – 12 rehearsal in Amiens
12.24 train to Paris
14.40 arrive in Paris
15.35 arrived at OPRF
21 minutes to change shirt and catch some breath
40 min rehearsal with the orchestra (Rite of Spring, Beethoven Fifth, Sibelius Valse Triste)
discussion with the OPRF directors
17.56 train back to Amiens
20.00 meeting with a soloist for next day
Next morning— I was informed that I had won the audition!

Since September, when I moved to Paris to assume my position with the ORPF,  I have conducted eight concerts with this orchestra, two of which were live radio broadcasts, and one in which I was asked to step in as a last minute replacement. I have participated in and witnessed others’ performances, some of which were amazing, some good, and some not so good.  After this experience I have come to this conclusion:

During this and all past 15 years in which I have pursued this vocation, I have seen many amazing conductors, and some deficient ones, too.  There comes the time when we have to stop looking at others and find ourselves by working directly with an orchestra.  As a professor of conducting at the university level, I know well how after three or four years of education it is almost impossible to change conducting technique; what he or she learned from first years of study stays and changes just a little during many year of work, consciously and unconsciously.  The only way to continue to grow is to have direct contact with orchestras.  Each of us is different and has a particular way of rehearsing and performing which is inimitable.  But there is only one answer to the question about what to do to be good at that job:  always be yourself.

Marzena Conducting







Marzena Diakun