Ruth Reinhardt, August 2015
This summer I spent eight weeks at the Tanglewood Music Center as one of two Conducting Fellows, my colleague being Marzena Diakun (a Taki Concordia Conducting Fellow, too) who’s friendship and companionship made the time so much more fun. It’s very satisfying to note that this year both Fellows were women – the first time in TMC history and surely a good sign that attitudes to women conductors are changing rapidly. Mark Volpe, the Managing Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra remarked in an interview: “To me, personally, as a father of two daughters, I’m absolutely delighted – and it took us 75 years to get to this point!”
The daily schedule for the Conducting Fellows is intense, conducting almost every day with a wide range of repertoire. In each concert of the TMC Orchestra it was usual for us to conduct one piece, with an additional commissioned work for chamber ensemble every week. This was particularly enjoyable as I got to better know the individual players and sections. Additionally we conducted whatever we were needed for, preparing the orchestra for other conductors, taking sectional rehearsals and conducting offstage groups.
For me an incredible highlight was the chance to get to know some famous composers and performers in a casual setting, many of whom I’d been listening to for years. Conducting the works of Osvaldo Golijov, David Lang, Steven Mackey and Detlev Glanert with them coaching was an incredible experience. So often as conductors we only get to guess and intuit what we think the composer wanted, and it was fascinating to work so closely with composers of such calibre on the details of their works. I got to work with Emanuel Ax and Andre Previn on Beethoven, where I was comforted to see that the greatest artists are really very lovely and kind people for whom music transcends ego. I saw so many great musicians just hanging around back stage that it almost seemed normal that Yo-Yo Ma was in my concert and came backstage it congratulate me. Almost…
I have been asked by friends and colleagues what it is that makes Tanglewood such a special place. For me it is the perfect mix of high-level performance opportunities, seeing great artists in concerts daily (and rubbing shoulders with them), being surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Berkshires, but most importantly the spirit of all the people there. Everyone that goes to Tanglewood seems marked by a special curiosity that manifests itself in great conversations and deep musical passion. It is one of the few places I’ve been where everyone is constantly excited about music without any hint of it being “merely” a profession.
In our rare free hours the Fellows (mostly billeted at Miss Hall’s School which serves as dorms), had the chance to build friendships over games of soccer and pool and a great breakfast that gave us the energy to tackle another day of Tanglewood experiences.