Since conducting is at the heart of all we do, we think that everyone will find something of interest in both the public student conducting classes (scheduled for Friday afternoon of the conference) as well as in the process by which students are chosen for those classes. They were designed with this in mind.
Four conductors — two undergraduates and two graduates — will conduct the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, and will be coached by outstanding teachers: Ann Howard Jones leads the undergraduate classes, and William Weinert leads the graduate classes.
And these truly are classes, with a format that allows for substantive time between the ensemble, the student, and the teacher: Each conductor will have 30 minutes to rehearse two pieces, as well as additional time one-on-one beforehand with maestro Jones or Weinert, respectively, to review and prepare for their time in front of the ensemble.
Applicants need to submit video of their conducting (rehearsing and performing) and analyses of the pieces they conduct. Adjudicators from outside the division will score these anonymized applications. And while this selection process is meant to be competitive (the only competitive aspect of the class, by the way), it also is meant to offer professor and student a kind of practicum, an exercise reflecting and focusing on the real-life responsibilities of a conductor. While the student is, of course, responsible for the content of the application, it affords a coaching opportunity for professor and student.
Conducting is a fascinating skill, and one in which we learn continually, with the challenges of every new piece and ensemble. From the interaction of these talented young conductors and master teachers, we can all expect to come away with insights that will feed into our own practice. So we hope that everyone will join us for the public sessions, that many students will apply, and—if you are a conducting teacher—that you will encourage your students to investigate the application process (deadline is October 1st!). Even simply considering the opportunity and process seriously, together, will encourage a dialogue about the essence of conducting—which is, perhaps, the most important dialogue you could be having right now.
– Wayne Abercrombie & Tony ThorntonCo-chairs
Conducting Masterclass Committee