Conductors, sidelined during pandemic, forge new identities and projects

Posted on: June 29, 2020

Photos, clockwise from top left: Conductors John Eliot Gardiner, Susanna Malkki, Roderick Cox, and Marin Alsop. Gardiner photo by James Estrin; Malkki photo by Michelle V. Agins; Cox photo by Courtney Perry; Alsop photo by Gabriella Demczuk.

“For conductors with steady work before the pandemic—globe-trotting and rarely home—the aftermath of cancellations has amounted to a surprise sabbatical,” writes Joshua Barone in Friday’s (6/26) New York Times. “ ‘We don’t make sound as conductors,’ said James Gaffigan, who had been set to lead the opening night of Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’ at the Met on March 12. ‘So we can’t do our craft right now.’ They have learned new languages, picked up old instruments, and composed…. The first days weren’t so productive. Roderick Cox described ‘going in and out of hope and depression and purpose,’ and not wanting to study—or even listen to—music. …. Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s music director, said she felt ‘a strange kind of withdrawal.’ … Jaap van Zweden, the New York Philharmonic’s music director … has been working to expand the number of facilities his Papageno Foundation runs for autistic children and young adults. He has also taken up composing… Miguel Harth-Bedoya, in his final season with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, [has] been exploring the works of Bohuslav Martinu for the first time…. Joshua Weilerstein, the artistic director of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland [is getting] back into shape as a violinist.”