Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guest Conductors Help a Symphony Try New Things

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Guest Conductors Help a Symphony Try New Things

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Nickle

Courtney Lewis is back in the United Kingdom this week, which gives me the exciting chance to bring you this issue of Conducting Electricity and talk about our upcoming guest conductor, one of the biggest names among young American conductors, Karina Canellakis.

I've been with the Jacksonville Symphony for a little more than a year, and as director of artistic operations I am lucky to be part of the process of contracting guest conductors and curating their programs. This process is an important one for orchestras that can have a significant impact on both the audience's experience and the orchestra's growth. A music director conducts a portion of an orchestra's season, but in most full-time orchestras they have weeks off, often affording them the opportunity to guest conduct elsewhere. For instance, Courtney will be making his subscription conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic next month, which is a wonderful milestone for conductors of any age. It is during these weeks off in the music director's schedule that an orchestra has the opportunity to put a new face in front of the musicians and audience.

Each conductor brings something unique to the podium, including facets such as physical style, philosophical approach and the ways they communicate during rehearsal. It's similar to how coaches have differences in the way they run practices, have their own philosophies about offense and defense, and coach in their own style during the game. When Courtney thinks about who he wants in front of the orchestra when he is not conducting, these are some of the things he considers. Different traits can bring out the various strengths of the orchestra and help develop areas the music director is working to move in a certain direction.

We are thrilled to be bringing Karina Canellakis, an A-lister among young conductors, to the Jacoby Symphony Hall stage. From 2014-16 she served as assistant conductor at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to Maestro Jaap van Zweden, who will be taking over the New York Philharmonic as music director in the fall of 2018. In 2016 she received the Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, a prize given annually to only one young American conductor who is early in his or her professional career. …

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