My local symphony, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra (TN), is interviewing candidates for the position of music director. They have selected the final three conductors each who will conduct two concerts: a classical/masterworks concert and a pops concert. This week the first of the three conductors is in town.
From talking with friends who work closely with the symphony this will be a week long interview of schmoozing with the "who's who" of Jackson, TN, and rehearsing for this weekend's concert.
Recently I was offered a gracious invitation to gather with others in a school setting to meet and talk with each of the three conductors when they were in town for their interviews.
Today I had the opportunity to visit Maestro Peter Shannon. Others who had spent time in his presence yesterday described him as a handsome, charismatic, charming, etc. Irishman with a sexy Irish accent. I asked what kind of musician he was, what were his visions for the JSO, how would he develop the symphony's image in the community, ... My friends responded with: "His wife plays piano and they have two small children. He's from Savannah, GA."
Sure, when hiring someone who will take on a very public role it is important that he possesses and portrays an appealing image. However, I, as a musician and a music educator, want to know more. My above questions are a starting point.
Unfortunately, this setting was not planned as a Q&A in the deeper sense. More social with Maestro Shannon sharing his thoughts on various topics.
He spoke about how as a young man he enjoyed singing and that it was his school music teacher who made music come alive for him.
I especially liked his stress on the importance of creativity stating that everyone can be creative and should be encouraged and given opportunities to create.
As all good things must come to an end, I had to excuse myself to get back to campus in time for my afternoon class.
I felt refreshed and inspired as I talked with my class of students:
Musicians and future music educators, conductors, and composers.
They are, after all, why I teach.