The City Magazine Since 1975

Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

May 2012
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra
Tuning in with conductor Anne Manson

Internationally acclaimed conductor Anne Manson makes her Spoleto debut leading the festival’s orchestra of emerging talents in Stravinsky’s early masterpiece, Petrushka,  and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring soloist Stephen Prutsman. Composer and College of Charleston associate professor Edward Hart asked Manson to weigh in on interpretive choices, the future of orchestral music, and grits:
Q:Is your approach different with “festival” orchestras?
A: No, I’ll approach this orchestra just like I would the Houston Symphony. I have worked extensively with young musicians at Juilliard and have always found the experience very rewarding.
Q:Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are wonderful yet widely performed and recorded orchestral standards. Do you feel compelled to make interpretive choices to set your performances apart?
A: I have two separate approaches for these works. In the Tchaikovsky, my goal is to do all that I can to support the artistic vision of the soloist, in this case Stephen Prutsman. As for Petrushka, I have done this work so often that I have a very clear blueprint in my head of what I want. I do feel, however, that every time I conduct it, something new and exciting pops up.
Q:As someone who conducts opera and orchestral music worldwide, can you give us your sense of the health of the art form?
A:Things are a bit worrying now. Quite a few major orchestras and arts organizations are in trouble, partly related to the economic downturn. As things improve and institutions are rebuilt, we need to consider changing the way we present classical music. When programming tends to get in a rut, it does a great disservice to the audience. Our goal must be to attract more young people.
Q:I have read that you conduct quite a bit of 20th- and 21st-century music. What is the role of newly composed works in the future of classical music?
A: New music is part of the fabric of classical music and should be included in our “daily diet.” We must be careful not to “dumb down” our programs. I have found that younger audiences are particularly attracted to programs that include new music.
Q:Will this be your first visit to Charleston?
A:No, I was there for Spoleto two seasons ago and saw Neely Bruce’s reconstruction of Flora, which I loved. I was utterly charmed by Charleston.
Q:Are you wiling to try grits?
A:Absolutely.

Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra
June 8, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St.
$65 (Gold Circle), $45, $30, $20, $10

Resources: