SF State Magazine { University Communications }

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How Does it Feel to Conduct a World-Class Orchestra?

Photo of Kent Nagano conducting an orchestra. Photo by Wilfried HöslPhoto by Wilfried Hösl

Working as a conductor of classical music in Europe is both a joy and a challenge. Coming from North America, where I was born, I must establish a dialogue with my musical partners that transcends our cultural differences. My great responsibility is to respect the cultural tradition and, at the same time, bring to the work my own imagination, interpretation and artistic sensibilities. By so doing we enrich one another, and our audience as well.


I conduct Mozart's "Idomeneo" and Richard Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" in Munich, the place where these works premiered centuries ago in the presence of Mozart, Wagner, and Ludwig II, King of Bavaria. How do I feel to be part of an orchestric institution that has shaped more than 400 years of musical history? Incredibly grateful.


-- Kent Nagano (M.A., '76), conductor laureate of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, is music director of both the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Bayerische Staatsoper.

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