A Lithuanian at the LA Phil

The Los Angeles Philharmonic assistant conductor, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, 29, is on a learning curve. Her repertoire grows from one concert to the next. And she’s being auditioned for music director in San Diego. She’s getting known pretty well around southern California:

Her gender and her youth would not seem to be much of an issue during her rehearsal with the L.A. Phil. The sheer physicality of her presence on the podium is immediately remarkable. Her motions are big but crisp and incisive. She plants her feet, bends her knees, and drives a phrase like a tennis player swinging through a forehand. She makes a fist and growls, asking for more vigor.

She treats the orchestra as equals, as partners. She says “please” and “thank you.” Her verbal directions are brief and to the point. She seems to want to let the orchestra play through Rodion Shchedrin’s “Carmen Suite” – trusting their abilities to learn it, a sure way to win over musicians – more than to hear herself talk. At any rate, her baton is plenty expressive.

Read on here.

Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla

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  • “…less than 30 years ago, she is slender, not particularly tall and one could even say girlish in appearance, not exactly the type one expects to find on the podium of a major symphony orchestra.”

    Ever heard of a male conductor described in such terms? I think not.

    • While I agree that the anatomy of female conductors is probably subjected to more scrutiny than that of male conductors, and I haven’t yet heard a male conductor being described as “girlish”, critics and journalists have not really spared younger, male conductors either.
      An example from a Times article about Yannick Nézet-Séguin:
      “How do you fix a broken orchestra? The Philadelphia Orchestra sent for Mighty Mouse. It’s the nickname the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has affectionately given the French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and you can see why it stuck.

      The 40-year-old is short on height but big on working his triceps (visit his Facebook page for selfies taken in vests on morning jogs) and on the podium makes up for a deficit of inches with bounding leaps and thrusting air punches. And if you won’t quite catch Nézet-Séguin bellowing the rodent cartoon hero’s catchphrase “Here I come to save the day”, that has been his mission statement since he arrived at one of America’s great orchestras…”
      (thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/music/classical/article4456321.ece)

    • The author probably had a flashback to the time when he was dual duty on the celebrity beat and classical music before returning full time to the latter.

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