Meet Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s groundbreaking 1st female conductor

A dream that started as a baby is now a groundbreaking actuality for Nathalie Stutzmann after she was named the primary feminine music director within the 77-year historical past of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

The 56-year-old native of France spoke with Jenna Bush Hager on TODAY Monday about turning into simply the second lady to be chosen as music director of a top-tier U.S. orchestra. Stutzmann performed her debut live performance final week.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve no phrases,” she mentioned. “It was so shifting, and the welcome of the viewers, which I met really yesterday night time for the primary time, was simply wonderful.”

Stutzmann is the one lady to at present lead a significant U.S. orchestra, following within the footsteps of Marin Alsop, 64, who was named music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007. Alsop was the primary lady to carry the place at a significant U.S. orchestra, and she or he concluded her historic 14-year tenure this 12 months.

Stutzmann’s ascension to main the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is the fruits of a dream she had as a younger woman.

“I very a lot bear in mind, I should have been 7 or 8, and I used to be within the orchestra pit and I watched the conductor,” she mentioned. “And when he was taking his baton I believed he was Mickey Mouse in ‘Fantasia,’ as a result of he was taking this baton and he was doing this.

“And the sound was coming there. For me, I couldn’t clarify. I mentioned, ‘How is it attainable that this man does this?’ And I say this man, as a result of it all the time was a man. So I used to be dreaming to have a baton in my fingers. And I have to inform you, I’ve been conducting in my coronary heart, in my soul, all by way of my life.”

Stutzmann is the daughter of two opera singers and studied music in class. When she was repeatedly handed over as a conductor in favor of males, she grew to become a celebrated contralto (the bottom vary of a classical feminine singing voice) whereas nonetheless harboring aspirations of breaking by way of as a conductor.

“It was so irritating,” she mentioned. “It was so unhappy for me that after a few months it was clear to me that at the moment, as a girl, overlook it, as a result of you’ll by no means make it (as a conductor).”

She carried out as a contralto in a few of the world’s most prestigious opera homes whereas finding out the maestros within the pit.

“I sang with all the best conductors within the biggest orchestras of the world, however I feel my conducting dream was all the time there,” she mentioned.

“However after all, I used to be having fun with to observe all the best maestros and no younger conductor can have a greater educating course than so a few years of music making with the best individuals.”

When she determined to pursue a profession as a conductor, she not solely needed to overcome skepticism of a singer making the transition, but in addition being the uncommon lady on the rostrum.

“I have to admit that I spent many nights coming again to my lodge in tears, and pondering the following day I cease,” she mentioned. “As a result of if conducting is that this, if I’m going to be handled so dangerous, I’ll cease. And the following morning I used to be going up once more.”

Stutuzmann described what has been so magnetic to her through the years about being a conductor.

“I have to say, it’s most likely probably the most addictive factor on Earth,” she mentioned. “Every little thing you do along with your physique language, along with your eyes, with what you ask to the musicians, has an influence on the sound.

“And while you really feel 100 individuals on the fringe of your fingers, of your physique, of your soul, and everybody getting in the identical course, it’s like when the birds are flying for the migration, and you might be amazed to see all of them flying in the identical course. It’s fully inconceivable to grasp the way it works. This is identical feeling. It’s heaven.”

Now that she has reached a historic milestone, she takes satisfaction in understanding she helps pave the best way for extra girls to conduct main U.S. orchestras.

“I dreamed about it, and it’s like that,” she mentioned. “Now it feels actually pure to me.

“After I’m on the rostrum I really feel that is the place I ought to be. And this can be a very particular feeling.”

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