First time at the podium

February 14, 2017

The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra is not only a training ensemble for young musicians; it also provides opportunities for aspiring composers and conductors.

While 19 of their peers were in New York City, the orchestra helped composing and conducting students hone their craft. The first half-hour of the rehearsal was dedicated to rehearsing original student compositions. While Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra Conductor Ara Sarkissian and the orchestra played the piece, the composer took video on their cell phone and made notes on the score. An enthusiastic round of applause from the orchestra followed the completion of the piece.

Dr. Matthew Schlomer brought the students in his conducting class to the stage for their first experience directing a large ensemble. “Play what you see,” Schlomer advised the orchestra before the first student assumed the baton. “It’s the best feedback you can give them.”

One at a time, each student took the podium to conduct the orchestra through an excerpt of their choice, ranging from Elgar’s Enigma Variations to Gershwin’s An American in Paris. For the next hour and a half, student conductors cycled between positions on the podium, in the wings and seated within the orchestra. Some of the students asked their classmates to record their performance so they could critique themselves later.

The orchestra enthusiastically responded to each composer, playing skillfully and applauding as each composer finished their selection.