After finishing my studies at Juilliard with Alan Gilbert, I found myself pretty immediately at Tanglewood with my lovely fellow Fellow Marzena Diakun. The summer there was incredibly intense but hugely enjoyable – we got to work all the time with the TMC players and incredible artists such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Emmanuel Ax and the composers Oswaldo Golijov and Detlev Glanert. Also working so closely with vocal coaches from the Met was personally hugely valuable and pleasurable experience.
After the summer I was back in New York for a concert with the ÆON Ensemble, a group founded by two brothers who I met at Juilliard, Yuri and Vlad Bogunina. The ensemble comprises many recent graduates from Juilliard and other young New York based professionals with the aim of performing both classical and contemporary music. The ensemble was invited to perform for the United Nations climate change conference in NYC and I was asked to lead a new piece for solo voices and string quartet. To my delight I learnt that the strings would be the Kronos Quartet a group I’d admired for years. The concert was a great success and the
quartet were not only musically superb, but a delight to work with on a personal level. This engagement was combined with some preparation rehearsals at Juilliard for Brahms Four under Alan Gilbert.
In October I was back again in the USA for a workshop with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas in Miami. In addition to Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra we could choose a work ourselves. As a German Schumann is close to my heart, so I asked for the Spring Symphony. MTT has an unending curiosity about music and a great grasp of the sheer mechanics of how an orchestra works, so it was great to spend time around him and these excellent players really getting under the skin of pieces in a way that is so often not possible with a “normal” orchestra.
In November the ÆON Ensemble had a concert in Carnegie Hall with a mix of three new and two standard repertoire works.
The highlight for me was the Cello Concerto by Yuri Bogunina played by Anna Litvinenko, a work of real expression and structural depth. Also in November I was asked to conduct a concert for Swiss TV with the Musikkollegium Winterthur. This was with a children’s choir, mixing standard works with their own music. The whole enterprise was one of the most complicated thing’s I’ve yet had to conduct – the TV, sound, choir and orchestra all had their own ideas on how the project should work and I had to somehow find a way to navigate the ship safely to port! The entire project was also being filmed for a documentary to accompany the TV show which only added to the pressure! In the end everything went extremely well and it was (after the news!) the most watched TV show over the Christmas period in Switzerland.
In January I made my first trip to Seattle as part of my Conducting Fellowship with the Seattle Symphony. I was assisting Olari Elts in a programme of Haydn and Mozart and getting to know the players and office staff. I’ll be back there in March for two projects – a side-by-side La Mer with a local youth orchestra and family performances of Prokofiev and Lutoslawski.