Our conductor for the subscription concert this weekend is unusual in three ways: she is young (only 33), she is from Mexico, and she is a woman. When she takes the podium, she brings these things with her and more importantly, herself. It is always interesting to see new energy leading and working with the orchestra, but perhaps this week especially so. I worked with Xian Zhang in my undergraduate orchestra, and was in the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra when Mei-Ann Chen conducted a concert, but apart from these two singular experiences, every other conductor has been a man. It's just really rare in the classical music world.
It's only two rehearsals into the week, but I'm really enjoying working with her. And the identities that threaten to define her seemed to fade during today's rehearsals. In the eyes of the world they may be who she is, but maybe she's come to know them for long enough that she can lay them aside. Yesterday, she smiled a lot more than we are used to seeing from a conductor, but today I felt like she asked for more.