Stories, voices, and characters of The Conductor.
The Conductor is not just Marin's story - it is filled with the stories of those she's influenced throughout her career. These are the voices of just a few of the people that Marin's influence has had an impact on.
When Marin Alsop was nine years old, her father took her to see one of Leonard Bernstein’s legendary Young People's Concerts at the Lincoln Center in New York City, and from that moment on Bernstein became Marin’s hero. The child of two professional musicians, Marin wanted to become a conductor just like Bernstein. Many years later her dream came true when she was accepted at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she won the prestigious Koussevitzky Prize for outstanding student conductor and met Leonard Bernstein as her future mentor.
Leonard Bernstein played a key role in Marin’s life. An outsider in many ways himself, the musical genius, conductor, and composer, Bernstein, swam against the grain of the establishment of classical music, challenging the rules and expectations of audiences. In our film, we honor his groundbreaking composition, Mass (1971), a piece written for several hundred players, dancers, and performers that showcases a community asking questions about faith in God and faith in each other, while simultaneously celebrating the beauty in the imperfection and messiness of humanity.
Jonathan is a Master's student at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University studying conducting. The son of gospel musicians, Jonathan shares a deep love and passion for music. Jonathan began, like many, conducting by using dry pasta as a baton when he was a child, inspired by Bugs Bunny. A gifted musician, he eventually made his way to the Peabody Master’s program in conducting and became one of Marin Alsop’s star students.
Today, Jonathan Rush is the Assistant Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, as well as the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta. He still counts Maestra Marin Alsop as his number one mentor and teacher in his musical and conducting journey.
We encounter the Italian conductor, Valentina Peleggi in São Paulo, where she is the Resident Conductor of Orquestra Simfônica do Estado de São Paulo. Together, they review scores and exchange notes on conducting after rehearsals. For Roxanna Panufnik’s contemporary composition 'Across the Line of Dreams, Valentina and Marin are also able to conduct together, providing audiences with an incredible experience.
Valentina was a Taki Fellow from 2015-2017, and today is the Music Director Designate of the Richmond Symphony. She reminds us that Marin paved the way for her and other women conductors to establish themselves in this male-dominated profession.
Sylvia Caduff, born in Chur, Switzerland in 1936, attended Marin Alsop’s concert at the Lucerne Festival. Caduff came to conducting in 1955, when she was just an 18-year old pianist. She had heard on the radio that Herbert von Karajan was giving a master-class in conducting in Lucerne. After overcoming hesitation and self-doubt she drove down to present herself to Karajan and told him she wanted to become his student.
Lina González-Grenados attended the 2018 Lucerne Festival with Marin Alsop as her assistant conductor where she was an important hand in preparing the London Symphony Orchestra for Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, commanding the offstage trumpets of the piece. Lina also participated in a masterclass led by Marin together with Alexandra Arrieche, where they discussed conducting methodology, techniques, and dispelled preconceived ideas of what it means to be a female conductor.
Lina was a Taki Fellow from 2017-2019 and is currently the Sir George Solti Conducting Aprrencine at the Chicago Institute of Music and a conducting fellow at the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony.
Alexanda Arrieche is a 2011 Taki Fellow, the Principal Conductor of the Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director of the Henderson Symphony Orchestra of Nevada. In 2015, she was the Principal Conductor of Night of the Proms (Belgium).
She joins Marin and Lina Gonzalez-Grenados for a master class in Baltimore, where she points out that when a woman shows delicacy in her conducting she is conceived as “too sensitive,” but when a man does he often benefits from a positive emotional interpretation.
Joseph is an Assistant Professor and Artistic Director of Ensembles at the Peabody Conservatory, Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony, and Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra–USA at Carnegie Hall. Joseph met Marin Alsop at a conducting Master Class in 2007, where he asked her for tips on applying to graduate school for conducting. Marin encouraged him to apply to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where Joseph was admitted at his second application, and started working as Marin’s student. Today they work head to head teaching masters students at the Peabody Conservatory.
For Joseph, it was important, as a black conductor in Atlanta, to show young kids of color that they could also become conductors if they wanted.
Mr. Tomio Taki is a Japanese businessman, and fashion industry titan. His work in the past includes Anna Klein Co. and DKNY. One of Marin Alsop’s earliest backers, Mr. Tomio Taki first met Marin when her band, String Fever performed at his wedding. From there, they developed a mutual respect and relationship, and Mr. Taki eventually, with the help of some of his friends, helped Marin Alsop create the Concordia Orchestra, where Marin Alsop was first able to practice as a professional conductor.
Not originally a fan of classical music, Mr. Taki believed in Marin Alsop from the start, and sought to help create new opportunities, believing that someone’s gender should not impede one from their dream.
To learn more about changing the future for women on the podiums of the world, please visit www.takialsop.org
Kristin Jurkscheit has been Marin’s life partner for more than 30 years and in 2020, they were married. Kristin, a former professional horn player, met Marin at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1988.
Over the years, Kristin has played in several orchestras together with Marin. In 2002 they had a son Auden who is a passionate climber and student of literature. Today, Kristin directs the Taki Alsop Fellowship Program for young women conductors.