Watch: Mirga drops the baton

Watch: Mirga drops the baton


norman lebrecht

April 03, 2017

The Birmingham music director says she prefers to conduct classical music without a stick.

‘It’s a holiday for my hands and fingers,’ she says in LA, in the best footage yet seen of her in rehearsal.



  • ben LEGEBEKE says:

    Looks like an amateur conductor. Never want to see this conductor again. I played with many feminine conductor ,most of them have very weird movements. But in general where are all the maestros left?

    • Halldor says:

      “Looks like an amateur conductor”. Sounds like an amateur’s comment. All that counts is the sound that a conductor draws from an orchestra: the technique they use is irrelevant. Though in this case some of the world’s best and most experienced professional orchestral players find her considerably more than just competent – profoundly inspiring, in fact.

      Have you actually heard Grazinyte-Tyla conduct? If so, what, and where? And give some constructive reasons for why that performance disappointed you so badly. An expression of regret for the blatant misogyny of your comment wouldn’t go amiss, either.

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      Better to remain silent about that which one cannot speak.

    • Respect says:

      I’d have to agree she’s making lots of irrelevant, “is it time for my closeup?” Gestures for the camera. Silly, but it’s how people make careers.

    • Dave says:

      The idiocy of misogynistic comments like yours Ben, (in which you try to make out that ‘effeminate’ conducting is a bad thing) is illustrated when you consider it as a widening of the expressive pallet. If different conductors, female or male, speak to their musicians with an extended range of movements to inspire their playing, how can this be anything but a good thing. Sometimes I like to try and emulate other conductors and can become a bit effeminate myself when conducting if it serves the communication with the musicians.

    • John says:

      So the possession of a penis is required for any orchestra you play in. Duly noted.

    • Fred says:

      Say what you will, but I saw her conduct an electrifying Tchaik 4 with the L.A. Phil a couple of years ago. I’ve heard that orchestra in person many dozens of times, but never, ever in better form than with Mirga conducting. (I’d rank the performance equal to a Maazel Bruckner I saw L.A. perform years before.) From my one-concert experience, I would say that she certainly deserves the hype and plaudits that she’s getting.

    • harold braun says:

      Spot on.So called karaoke conducting….and the terribly coarse,vulgar performance a la Tom Hulce in Amadeus shows…..never heard this wonderful orchestra playing so schnödes.

  • John Groves says:

    She is a SUPERB conductor – I have seen/heard her conduct Mozart at Salzburg: she is able to conjure from the players in front of her such clarity of sound: I am very impressed: does it matter whether she uses a stick or not?

  • Dave says:

    She appears to be doing a fantastic job. I’m not always convinced by the aesthetics of her conducting, but then again, I was positively cross the first time I watched Andris Nelsons – he’s become my favuorite conductor.

    I really want to make the trip to Birmingham to see her live. I really want her to succeed because she seems like such a warm person in interviews. Which we need more of these days!

  • Dave says:

    BEN LEGEBEKE, just read your comment above. Disgusted. Idiot.

  • Karen201469 says:

    Many men who conduct look like amateurs. This has nothing to do with being a woman or a man. Anyine has the right to not like what they see or what they hear ( and in this case I think personally : horrible musical taste and very aggressive beats ) , BUT this has nothing to do with being a woman ! So please let’s not be sexist and just judge by musical taste and knowledge .

  • Derek Hunt says:

    Mirga is very much liked and respected by the orchestras she conducts and audiences.

    The CBSO members chose her as their Music Director from a number of candidates.

    Her style may seem extravagant but obviously she gets her message across to the orchestra members who voted for her and made her a clear winner.
    Her concerts are selling very well and it will be interesting to see how her career develops.

  • John says:

    Otto-Werner Mueller* always taught his students that their most important conducting tool was their knowledge of the score, and any ‘conducting technique’ grew from that. If she’s conducting major orchestras like the LA Phil, she has earned her way.

  • TV says:

    In fifty years of concert/opera-going, I have only booed a conductor once (for rank incompetence: an underrehearsed cast at the Staatsoper kept getting lost, but the score-focussed conductor kept their head down and pretended not to notice aka didn’t have the technique to rescue things) As it happens this conductor was a woman.

    I felt simultaineously unchivalrous but also certain that only positive discrimination could have got her the gig. So, really, I was booing the decision to employ someone who was not up to the job.

    I think Mirga is very cute and could have a positive impact on sleepy players. Wish her well.

    • Halldor says:

      Take a good hard look at yourself, and that last comment in particular. This is 2017.

      • TV says:

        Heil to the thought police. Will you apply your 2017 normative lesson to Sue’s comment as well?

        As someone in transition (my handle should have given you a clue) I am offended by what you write (we can all guess what you assumed about me). Try harder if you really want a virtue prize. Or else lighten up and learn that life is not so simple.

  • Sue says:

    Wonderful!! Good wishes for this gorgeous rising star!!

  • RobertaK says:

    There is no such thing as feminine or masculine conducting ! There is good and bad ! Period. And she is bad. Looks weird and, mostly, the result sounds aweful. And she is saying very very banal things . “Holiday for my fingers ..” I went to her Juilliard debut a few months ago. Sloppy Beethoven, and LOUD aggressive Berlioz. So loud and unrefined I had to shut my ears .

  • Fukagawa says:

    As a woman, I don’t like her conducting at all. Looks weird, sounds bad.

  • Karajon says:

    Swallow conducting. Good Lord, she learned to bullshit for the camera. Hopefully, she fill find her right place, around Dudamel and the others…

  • Saxon Broken says:

    She speaks with the weirdest accent, not that this says anything about her conducting. She seems to be well-regarded by major orchestras (and not just the CBSO).

    • Bruce says:

      I think a lot of Europeans learn English from someone from the UK (or an English teacher who learned it from someone from the UK). What we’re hearing is probably a Lithuanian-British accent with some American overtones from working in this country, and stray ingredients from the other languages she speaks. That’s my guess anyway.

  • Peter Freeman says:

    Music is by definition about sound. It IS sound. How it is obtained should be of no importance so long as the sound is right. Similarly, it shouldn’t matter what the person in charge looks like so long as it sounds right. One may always listen with closed eyes. Boult scarcely moved on the podium yet produced wonders of discipline. Furtwaengler looked absurd yet achieved some fine results. Nobody understood how anyone followed Klemperer’s wild flailings after he suffered strokes, yet listen to those recordings he made! The one concert of this lady I attended sounded fine and I wasn’t aware of anyone walking out.

  • Derek Hunt says:

    Peter, you make very good and appropriate points.

    Also the variety of conductors and interpretations is an essential part of keeping performances alive!