Caleb Young, a conducting student at IU, has sent us a short reflection on a loss of leadership in conducting faculties in the USA. He has a point. Baton students these days head to Helsinki, St Petersburg, Vienna, Berlin and elsewhere. Has America lost the beat? The headline and preamble are written by Slipped Disc. Here’s Caleb’s thoughtful article.
A tidal wave of change is coming to conducting pedagogy here in America.
Ambitious young conductors come from all around the world to study conducting in the United States. For decades our schools have sported internationally renowned Maestros, who have passed along their experiences and wisdom, lab orchestras and a plethora of performance opportunities. But is this golden age of conducting pedagogy coming to an end? From my standpoint the future looks uncertain.
The death of the great James DePreist at Juilliard started a domino effect in the American school of conducting. Curtis, well steeped in producing excellent conductors, has struggled to fill Otto-Werner Mueller’s shoes. The stern, yet lovable, Victor Yampolsky is still manning the helm at Bienen. But for how much longer? Peabody’s lionized Gustav Meier is still flying from Ann Arbor to Baltimore to teach his talented class of budding maestros, even in his 80s.
Then there is my guru, David Effron, at Indiana University. From Cologne, City Opera, Eastman, Curtis, Brevard, and finally the Jacobs School, the winds of change are passing through Bloomington. (In fairness Jacobs will be in great hands with Maestro Arthur Fagen…)
These are big shoes for deans to begin to start thinking about filling. We will see a drastic change in the next 5-10 years in the way conducting is taught in the USA. There will most certainly be arguments for this being both a negative and positive passing of the batons. The USA has become an epicenter of conducting pedagogy that students flock to and it will be interesting to see how our craft will evolve. As I shared a long lunch with my own guru yesterday, I felt honored to have been part of this legacy of the great American school of conducting. But as with all art, we must take our sacred traditions and grow them into new and ever evolving ideals.