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A person who leads in need and in control

MUNICH – Let’s get this out of the way: Don’t expect Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla to soon become the musical director of a major American orchestra.

Gražinytė-Tyla, 35, said in a recent interview at the Bavarian State Opera here, where she is preparing a new production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. . ”

It’s an unusual statement coming from a young conductor in demand, especially given his current appointment – as musical director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the UK – comes to an end this spring. . Even more unusual since Gražinytė-Tyla, along with people who like Susanna Mälkkiis often mentioned as a leading candidate to fill vacancies at top American orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic.

But when administrators look for someone to command her stature, as well as someone to scale to the gender balance in the United States — where there are will not be the female musical director of the country’s 25 largest orchestras until Nathalie Stutzmann started with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra next season – Gražinytė-Tyla is a rarity despite: an anti-careerist who has resisted industry pressure in favor of artistic and personal perfection.

Her star may be on the rise, but she’s holding onto it for a short period of time. Gražinytė-Tyla has designed her calendar for this season so that it is dominated by “The Cunning Little Vixen” – both in concert, as in Birmingham, and staged, as in Munich. She has very good control over her schedule, ensuring time for her family: her partner and two sons in Salzburg, Austria, with a third child on the way. (The Birmingham Orchestra recently announced that, because of her pregnancy, she will no longer hold the final concerts that were scheduled for June.)

“She was very in tune with herself,” says Barrie Kosky, who directed the new “Vixen” film. extended until the end of February 15. “She is very sure that her decisions are the right ones for her. She couldn’t be less interested in all the tra-la-la. ”

Born into a family of professional musicians in Lithuania, and early successful with the gourd, Gražinytė-Tyla (pronounced grah-zhin-EE-tay teel-AH) was raised for the classical life. image of a conductor: rushing to install the jet and appoint the step – to lead, perhaps, to the podium.

But she also has a longstanding independent personality. She began to study music officially at the age of 11 at the request of her parents, who wanted her to avoid difficulties in the artistic life. Despite her experience as a singer, she was not a trained instrumentalist, so she took the only course available: conducting. She was a natural and, at the age of 16, won first prize at a competition in Lithuania.

“I remember thinking, Oh no, what do I do now?” Gražinytė-Tyla said. “It’s pressure, and I know it’s going to be difficult to maintain that form. It is a huge challenge, but also a mixture of joy and responsibility.”

The pressure doesn’t end there. Completing her studies, adding Tyla (the Lithuanian word for silence) to her career name, and winning the Salzburg Young Conductor Award, she was later awarded a fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she would continue continued to work as assistant, then associate, conductor. She made her debut with CBSO in the summer of 2015, and by January of the following year she had been named its music director.

The speed of all of that, says Gražinytė-Tyla, “gets you in shape and can give you a good kick to do something quickly.” However, she added, it also made her value an introspective pause. “I think it’s extremely important to always be aware of what’s going on inside, because a person shouldn’t be a machine, and shouldn’t be a small part of this great mechanism that says, ‘You go this way and this way . ‘”

“Everybody is different,” she continued. “But I think I need time in places where I’m not studying, commanding, traveling, or training to be a complete person.”

A breakthrough came in conversation with violinist Gidon Kremer. She recalls him telling her that her career always felt like it had two different doors. Behind one will be record labels, regulators, festivals and a host of conflicting needs; behind the other, “all your dreams are there, your imagination and the things you can seek and discover.”

She opened both doors. Always tight-lipped about her private life, she speaks strategically, sometimes even rhetorically, about her family life. Her partner is not publicly identified other than having a job with the Mozarteum Orchestra in Salzburg; In the interview, she calls family time “the human relationship.”

However, she has taken the job in Birmingham, which enjoys high profile and stardom, with recent musical directors such as Simon Rattle and Andris Nelsons. A recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon by her appointment. In either case, she was first: as a woman on the Birmingham podium and as a female conductor with that brand of class. Those milestones were publicly noted, Gražinytė-Tyla said, but only passed.

“This is something for which our generation must be extremely grateful,” she said, referring to the struggles of female conductors. “There have been a lot of painful memories for our colleagues in the past, and I have had some minor experiences myself, but not as much as those of Susanna Mälkki’s generation have had to go through.” (Mälkki is 52 years old)

Oliver Janes, a clarinetist with the ensemble, said Gražinytė-Tyla was well received by players in Birmingham. “She has this rehearsal technique where you forget you’ve ever played a piece of music before,” he adds. “And once you’ve completely forgotten how it happened, you feel like you’re starting over.”

She also gave the orchestra – and its public – a shock, too, he said. At her first appearance on BBC Proms under her direction, they accompanied Tchaikovsky’s song “Sleeping Beauty”, and the moment it was over, she shouted to the audience inside the Royal Albert. Huge Hall in London, “See you in Birmingham!”

She released several Deutsche Grammophon recordings with orchestra, included as part of the standard pairing of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s symphonies is often overlooked – she says, a reflection of her tendency to use a project-based approach to command. Just as there will be more Weinbergs, she’s in the midst of the “Vixen” immersion.

“I am fully aware that this is a complete luxury,” she said. “Some people see the job of a conductor as: You have to be extremely agile and know all the repertoire. These are great qualities. On the other hand, for myself, I can only say that I believe less and less that I can become such a conductor.”

Over time and multiple performances, she added, “Vixen” has revealed “incredible gems and connections” to her. Janes, the clarinetist, says that in Birmingham, she knows every nook and cranny of the writing, so much so that, “if all the singers were sick, she could do the whole concert and sing each part. “.

When Kosky started planning a production in Munich with Gražinytė-Tyla, she said, she wanted their first conversation to be about writing, “which delighted me from head to toe.”

“I told her, ‘That’s all work,” he added. “The work itself is how the writing is motivated by the music. She breathes text, and she breathes to music. If it weren’t for that in Janacek, you’d be dead. ”

Writing is a focus even in her recent rehearsals with the orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera. Standing on the podium, her petite frame spoke to a deep voice that commands as easily as a burst of laughter, she alternates between simple notes and explains scenes in detail. – especially regarding Kosky’s staging. She later did the same when the cast joined sitzprobe, the first meeting of singers and instrumentalists.

Soprano Jonas Hacker, singing as the Principal, says that Gražinytė-Tyla’s instruction tends to be “very colourful” and that she “breaks things down into small segments”, he added, coming from the piece itself: “Janacek tends to be so disjointed, she’ll just go through a few bars and figure out what the text really says and what the mood is, and really take the time.”

Throughout, Kosky said, he still believes she’s “a theater person, that to me is very basic.”

“There are not many opera conductors in the world,” he added. “You can be a great symphony conductor and a lousy opera conductor. And there is a complete lack of really talented opera conductors. It’s a bit worrisome; Get your truffle pig out now. But Mirga is one of them.”

Gražinytė-Tyla has not announced future performances beyond the brief revival of “Vixen” during this summer’s Munich Opera Festival. But for now, she is confident that whatever comes next won’t be a permanent arrangement with any orchestra.

“The luxury of focusing on ‘Vixen’ – I think it will remain a very important point for me when dealing with certain repertoires to a rhythm that I feel is appropriate, right now, for me,” she said, adding with a grin: “I’m not sure the major orchestras would be interested in having me if I said I would just do ‘Vixen’ for the whole season.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/arts/music/mirga-grazinyte-tyla-conductor.html A person who leads in need and in control

Fry Electronics Team

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