October 17, 2018

The MSM/ Leonard Slatkin Conductor’s Project: Three Questions with Maestro Slatkin

A special collaboration between MSM orchestral students and Conductor Leonard Slatkin culminates in a concert on Friday, Oct 26 at 7:30 PM, in the magnificent Riverside Church.

The third annual MSM / Leonard Slatkin Conductor’s Project taking place at MSM during the week of Oct 23-26,  is a unique “podium partnership” between MSM and Maestro Leonard Slatkin, currently Music Director Laureate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Directeur Musical Honoraire of the Orchestre National de Lyon.

MSM Conducting Fellows Ken Yanagisawa (MM ’19) and Bryan Zaros (DMA ’19) work intensively with Maestro Slatkin, along with soloists Andi Zhang (PS ’19), violin, Wenqiao Jiang (BM ’20), piano, and Devin Moore (BM ’21), viola, and the MSM Symphony Orchestra.

All rehearsals, including a final dress rehearsal at Riverside Church, are free and open to the public.

The week culminates in an evening performance at 7:30 PM on OCT 26, with a program of works by Liszt, Saint-Saens and Berlioz, each led by one of the conductors.

Scroll down to read our interview with Maestro Slatkin about this year’s event.

Maestro Leonard Slatkin conducts the MSM Symphony Orchestra in the 1st Annual MSM / Leonard Slatkin Conductor's Project in 2016

Three Questions for Leonard Slatkin:

What is special about the Conductor’s Project with MSM, why is it important, and what do you enjoy about it?

It is not often that young conductors get to work with an orchestra for most of a given week when they are in school. The project started as a joint venture with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, with each conductor also coming to the Motor City to learn everything about the professional workplace.  It is a bit different this season, as my next visit to MSM is for the Centennial Gala, and I am not in Detroit again during the semester. But I hope to return to the format of providing a parallel conducting opportunity in the professional orchestra environment next year.

What is it that you hope MSM students will learn from your work with them?

The format of working with the orchestra is quite interactive.  The musicians are permitted and encouraged to give immediate advice and criticism to their colleagues on the podium. I will be there to referee and to help out when they get in trouble. Perhaps more than fifty years of conducting experience gives me a bit of leeway in terms of spotting deficiencies and helping the conductors to find the tools needed for successful communication.

Tell us about the music that will be performed on Friday Oct 26 for the final concert at The Riverside Church? What should people expect who attend the concert?

This year I decided that the conductors will be put to the test by serving as collaborators with student soloists. This area of the podium art is probably the most difficult to master, as the soloist has one set of ideas, and the conductor may or may not have a conflicting view. With works by Saint-Saens and Liszt there will be many challenges ahead for everyone. I will lead the orchestra in Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, a work that is not quite a symphony and not quite a concerto. Virtuosity comes to the fore, and it is one of my very favorite works to conduct.

OCT 26 | Final Concert Program

SAINT-SAËNSIntroduction et Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28
Bryan Zaros, Conductor
Andi Zhang (PS ’19), Violin

LISZT Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major
Ken Yanagisawa (MM ’19, Conductor
Wenqiao Jang (BM’20), Piano

BERLIOZHarold in Italy, Op. 16
Leonard Slatkin, Conductor
Devin Moore (BM ’21),  Viola

The Riverside Church
490 Riverside Drive

$15 adults, $10 students and seniors.
Free with presentation of MSM ID.




OCT 23 | 7:00 PM | Ades Performance Space
OCT 24 | 9:30 AM | Ades Performance Space
OCT 25 | 7:00 PM | Ades Performance Space

Ades Performance Space
Manhattan School of Music
132 Claremont Ave

Dress Rehearsal 
OCT 26 | 4:00 PM | The Riverside Church

Rehearsals are free and open to the public.

We are thrilled that Leonard is returning to the School on a continuing basis. MSM has a powerful reputation for working with the world’s great musical artists for the benefit of our students; this partnership strikes me as a high point in that tradition.

President, Manhattan School of Music

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