When Your Mom's Part of the Orchestra

Question: Your mother is a violinist in the New York Philharmonic. What is it like to conduct her?
\r\n

Alan Gilbert: My mother is a violinist, a wonderful \r\nviolinist, still playing in the New York Philharmonic.  I was more aware\r\n of it... I mean, it's not that I forget about it; I’ll never be able to\r\n do that.  It's a very unique situation—a kind of fantastic, wonderful \r\nsituation.  Early in the time I was conducting the orchestra, the first \r\ntimes with the orchestra, I certainly was more aware of the fact that my\r\n mother was sitting over to my left.  Now, frankly, there's so much to \r\nthink about, there's so much to worry about, there are so many elements \r\nthat I have to keep in my mind that I would say that her presence has \r\nassumed it's sort of proper proportion now.  Of course, I'm aware she's \r\nthere.  I'm happy she's there.  I'm lucky that she's playing really, \r\nreally well, and there are no issues as far as that goes because I guess\r\n technically I'm her boss, and if there were any sort of issues I'd be \r\nthe one who would have to deal with it.  She's at the top of her game, \r\nand that keeps it simple.

\r\nQuestion:
Does she still give you advice?
\r\n

Alan Gilbert:  Absolutely.  She's me mother, after all.  \r\nShe will often... I mean, sometimes it's silly advice, like “Oh, I \r\ndidn't like those clothes you wore, or whatever.”  But she says, “Here \r\nit felt a little bit pushed” or “It feels like we could use a little bit\r\n more time on this.”  This is really interesting feedback to get, and \r\nbecause of the hierarchy and because of the nature of the situation, \r\nconductors tend not to get a lot of feedback from the orchestra, which \r\nis probably good because it could become really messy if everybody in \r\nthe orchestra felt that it was okay to give his or her advice.  And, you\r\n know, there's some boundaries that are probably worth preserving.

It's\r\n also very useful because the musicians are smart and they have a lot of\r\n perspective and experience.  Good advice is always welcome, and it \r\nhappens that my mother feels comfortable saying things.  She basically \r\nleaves me to my work, but occasionally she will definitely say, “Oh, \r\nthis was a little fast,” or “We need a little more help with the beat at\r\n this point.”  It's useful.
\r\n
\r\nRecorded on June 18, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by David Hirschman

The conductor's mother is a violinist in the New York Philharmonic, but he says her presence has assumed it's proper proportion. "I'm lucky that she's playing really, really well, and there are no issues ... because I guess technically I'm her boss."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less