Marin Alsop becomes a Fellow

The Baltimore music director has been made an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, University of Cambridge, to acknowledge the exceptional contribution she has made to music.

At Newnham, an all-women’s college, she took questions from students.

Here’s one answer: ‘I would rather be respected than liked or feared. Some orchestras want you to demonstrate your expertise, others want you to show humility. There is a lot of psychology involved – a conductor can alienate an orchestra in five minutes but you can’t win them over in five minutes. Chemistry is important but ultimately orchestras are looking for someone who can lead them.’


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    • I understood her to mean some orchestras want only one — or mainly one — or the other. Show humility, and that particular group will like you even if you’re not good. Show the slightest lack of mastery, and another group will never give you a second chance no matter how much you improve.

      • That is exactly why I specified what kind of orchestras I was talking about. Luckily for me I guess that I have never had a misfortune of working with the sort of groups you have described here.

  • For a second there I thought you meant….became a fellow. Like, you know, a fellow.
    Gotta say, two of my favorite orchestral recordings – “Gorgon (Rouse)” and “Dreamtime (Takemitsu” are Alsop-led, so I have plenty of appreciation for her.

  • I worked for Ms. Alsop numerous times over the course of several years. She was extraordinarily effective in leading an orchestra through new music, and I’d rather play for her than almost anyone else when in uncharted territory; the one time I played a more conventional orchestral program under her baton I was less impressed, but that was a single experience and a good many years ago. She’s definitely an important force in American music-making.

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