Conductors raise their batons at USC this week

June 8, 2014 

TRACY GLANTZ — Tracy Glantz/tglantz@thestate.co

Whether you’re an aspiring conductor or just curious about what all that hand waving means, the Conductors Institute of South Carolina can shed light on the skill it takes to lead an orchestra.

Now in its 30th year, the Conductors Institute offers students a chance to learn from conductors and composers who have worked in commercial, academic and professional settings. The guest composer for the institute is Roberto Sierra, whose works have been commissioned and performed by many of the major American and European orchestras and international ensembles.

This summer’s guest faculty includes Maurice Peress, former assistant conductor to the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein; Jorge Mester, former music director of the Aspen Music Festival and the Louisville Orchestra; and Paul Vermel, the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Koussevitsky Memorial Award for the outstanding conductor at Tanglewood.

The students get hands-on practice conducting professional musicians, and evaluation from the professional conductors. It’s a competitive field, and the veteran conductors offer advice on the job market, as well as critical feedback.

For the layman, the daily podium sessions are open to the public. Anyone who is interested can observe and witness the skills and complexities of conducting.

The daily podium sessions take place June 9-21 at the Koger Center for the Arts. Monday through Saturday each week, the public may observe the podium sessions from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:00-4:30 p.m.

June 9-12 will feature a string orchestra. June 13-17 will feature a chamber orchestra. And June 18-21 will feature a symphony orchestra.

Bridget Winston, Special to The State

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