Meet Amy, America’s most-watched symphony conductor

Meet Amy, America’s most-watched symphony conductor


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2015

Many people watching TV in bed thought they had died and gone to heaven when a symphony orchestra of 74 musicians, plus chorus, popped up on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.

When did a real orchestra last fill the screen of network television?

OK, it wasn’t Beethoven. It was The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, which is on a worldwide tour to promote a Nintendo game. But the symphony is in four movements and the conductor, Amy Andersson, is a serious musician who has led opera productions at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, National Theater Mannheim and Stadttheater Aachen. Her late-night audience was greater than all the opera houses in America put together.

Amy Andersson is the widow of the late and much-missed conductor, Yakov Kreizberg, who died in March 2011.

amy andersson kreizberg


  • RW2013 says:

    Amy should have stayed in Aachen.

  • Owen Leech says:

    How profoundly depressing. I hope at least that the poor musicians are handsomely rewarded for playing this vacuous drivel.

    • Alex says:

      I have played a few of these now. It’s fun to do something different. The audience loves it! What’s wrong with that?

    • Alex says:

      And really, all of you who are turning up your precious noses at this kind of thing, it might be time to park the snobbery and understand that this is a very legitimate way for orchestras to make some extra (and much-needed) cash and maybe even attract a few new subscribers.

  • william osborne says:

    From 1949 to 1964m NBC hosted a program for the presentation of opera. During that 14 year period, 43 works were performed, including many premieres written specifically for the program including Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Bohuslav Martinů’s The Marriage, Lukas Foss’ Griffelkin, Norman Dello Joio’s The Trial at Rouen, Leonard Kastle’s The Swing, Stanley Hollingsworth’s La Grande Bretèche, Menotti’s Maria Golovin, Philip Bezanson’s Golden Child, Kastle’s Deseret, and Menotti’s Labyrinth. The show received 3 Emmy Award nominations.

    • MWnyc says:

      NBC Opera Theater did a very good Dialogues of the Carmelites (sung, incidentally, in the language of the audience, as the composer specified) that I was fortunate to see several years ago when a print was dug out of the vaults and screened at (what was then called, I believe) the Museum of Television and Radio. (I think it’s now called the Paley Center.)

      The only problem happened, unfortunately, at the high point of the drama: the first swish of the guillotine didn’t sound. The conductor was at the screening and confessed that he was so choked up that he forgot to cue it. And the performance was aired live, so there was no fixing it.

    • David Boxwell says:

      Just think: that was era when TV was considered a “vast wasteland” (Newton Minow) and “my dear, nothing but auditions” (Addison de Witt).

  • V.Lind says:

    I first saw The Magic Flute and The Flying Dutchman on television. Probably CBC. Also MANY ballets. I haven’t heard of a ballet being filmed for television for years. And as for opera…forget it.

    They used to run Amahl every Christmas, as part of the garland of regular offerings. I doubt it gets airtime now.

  • AZ Opera Fan says:

    Ok, it’s not Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler. But – it is music of our time and frankly it’s a heck of lot more listenable that 99% of the garbage so many modern “serious” composers crank out. Music for the ages? No, but very functional. Orchestras all over have been performing a show called “Video Games Live” for several years. I hear complaints of orchestras dying and how difficult it is to draw young listeners in. This is one way because young people DO come to hear this. It is mind-numbing for musicians, but then so is John Adams, Philip Glass, and others.

  • Blobfish says:

    I believe the production companies involved here have just been placed on the AFM’s international unfair list. No union contract, so no contributions to pensions or health plans

    • Kevin Case says:

      Correct — the Zelda tour uses pickup musicians in each city, and at least in Brooklyn, it was a non-union show. Comments from the producer,, suggest that the tour uses union musicians at a union house (like the Ed Sullivan theater where Colbert’s show resides), but non-union players otherwise. (He also threw in some drivel about “artistic choices,” as if that — not money — was the determining factor. As if.)

      • NYMike says:

        “Union house” in his usage is complete drivel. All staff at the Barclay’s Center is unionized. In cities where local union rates are low enough to fit his “artistic budget,” he signs a union contract. However in NYC, our local rates are higher than he wants to spend – therefore, no union contract for musicians and no health and pension benefits required in all our agreements.

        • NYMike says:


          The Colbert Late Night show is b’cast on CBS which, along with the other networks, has a national media agreement with the AFM – therefore a unionized band just like the other night shows. Although the Ed Sullivan Theatre’s staff is unionized, the term “union house” is again a misconception.

  • Alvaro says:

    Norman is HILARIOUS He gets off on the prospect of ” classical music” ever reaching mass audiences, even if it is at the expense of the music itself.

    Frowns upon Lang Lang for not playing MOZART the way he likes, but if you are a retarded clown like Igudesman/Joo, Ray Chen, or Amy here, you can fart over Mozart, play heavy metal on the violin, puke over the name of beethoven with tasteless pranks, or play the legend of Zelda (a classical music masterpiece, I am sure) and he sees no problem with it.

    Coherence in this blog is more scarce than a pink diamond….(getting censored in 3…2….1…)

    • Glenn Hardy says:

      Viciousness and nastiness however, seem to be in full flower. Ahhhh, I hear it coming, another clever riposte of “Well, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” And so goes civility.

  • Una says:

    Pretty grim the whole thing … sadly including the conducting …