ONE TO ONE INTERVIEWS



James Robinson
Artistic Director
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Interview date: July 21, 2022
The stagings of James Robinson, artistic director of Opera Theater of Saint Louis (OTSL), are everywhere these days, from OTSL to the Santa Fe Opera to the Metropolitan Opera. Robinson is known for breaking new ground: he's responsible for Terrance Blanchard's first venture into the artform with Champion at OTSL, which next spring comes to the Met, where he also staged Porgy and Bess and Blanchard’s second opera, Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
One to One caught up with Robinson in Santa Fe, ten days before the world premiere of M. Butterfly, now onstage. Rehearsals were going well, he reported, due no doubt to his trademark ability to keep "a happy room." Asked about opera's biggest challenges post-pandemic, he noted the daily hassle of testing for Covid and rehearsing in masks. "It's so much harder—singers hate it—so you have to find a way through that." Given his track record, he has clearly succeeded.

Jacques Marquis
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Cliburn
Interview date: June 23, 2022
We caught up with Jacques Marquis, president and CEO of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, just after the 2022 Medalists were announced. The quadrennial, highly prestigious contest, named for the American winner of Russia’s 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition, started its live rounds last March, just at the start of the Russian invasion. Marquis explains his decision not to ban the 15 Russian competitors (chosen from 388 applicants) from coming to the U.S. He also explains how he chose the all new, nine-member jury, and his mandate to each juror to use his or her unique "tunnel vision" in choosing the finest pianist.

Ara Guzelimian
Artistic and Executive Director, Ojai Music Festival
Former Provost and Dean, The Juilliard School
Interview date: May 9, 2022
Ara Guzelimian has a long history with California’s Ojai Festival and two years ago was named the artistic and executive director of one of the arts world’s most fertile breeding grounds (running this summer June 9-12). A former provost and dean of the Juilliard School and, before that, Carnegie Hall’s senior director and artistic advisor, Guzelimian has long been a key player in classical music on both the east and west coasts.
Continuing the Festival’s 75-year success formula of having a different music director every season, Guzelimian has this year chosen the multi-headed, multi-disciplined American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). At 17 members strong and with an acronym pronounced "amuck," the group epitomizes the vitality and experimentation of Ojai, host to historic premieres by the likes of John Cage, Pierre Boulez, and, this summer, Olivier Messiaen. In his One to One interview, Guzelimian touches on season highlights. "Working with 17 different music directors has reminded me that democracy actually CAN work," says Guzelimian. "The AMOCers make it work. They are deeply committed to a collective decision-making process." The result is four days of fresh, often off-the-wall, programming.

Henry Timms
President and Chief Executive Officer
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Interview date: April 26, 2022
Arriving at his third-year anniversary as president and CEO, Henry Timms describes the rationale behind the "different kind of Lincoln Center" that has so clearly been evolving on his watch. He cites three priorities: completing the David Geffen Hall renovation; "fixing" the finances; and building a broader and more diverse culture among staff, constituents, and audiences. He is also working to create a stronger connection among the Center’s ten organizations, from the Met Opera to Jazz at Lincoln Center to The Juilliard School.
The U.K. born Timms, known for inventing #GivingTuesday, is the former president and CEO at the 92nd Street Y, which he revitalized through modern thinking and technology. He is also the co-author of the international best-selling book, New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World—and How to Make it Work for You. He is a Hauser Leader at Harvard Kennedy School and a Senior Fellow at both the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University and the United Nations Foundation.

Joseph Conyers
Assistant Principal Bass, Philadelphia Orchestra
Founder & Vision Advisor, Project 440
Interview date: March 29, 2022
Joseph Conyers is assistant principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and recipient of the orchestra’s highest honor for a musician, the C. Hartman Kuhn Award, as bestowed by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He is also the founder of Project 440, which, through music, gives young, often inner-city students in Philadelphia the "agency" (his word) to lead and enrich their respective communities. He is also music director of Philadelphia’s All City Orchestra, the Boston University at Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) Young Artists Orchestra, and on the Juilliard and Temple University faculties. Teaching, he says, is his greatest joy.
Conyers, who grew up in Savannah, GA, describes his journey from piano student to bass player to “this little school in Philadelphia I had never heard of called the Curtis Institute,” to becoming principal bass of the Grand Rapids Symphony to the Atlanta Symphony to the Philadelphia Orchestra, in 2010. “I’ve had a very blessed career,” he says. Asked about being a Black musician in a very white field, he says early on he was solely focused on his music (“I didn’t care about anything else”). Only now, he says, does he see room for improvement, especially in access to the artform. Lack of it, he says, is what has made him "lean in."

 

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