CARTER-GLENNON’S INTERVIEW WITH
Markand Thakar recently completed his second season of classes for the Carter-Glennon Master Class program held in Stony Point, New York. Below is an interview with the Maestro:
CG: Where did you grow up?
MT: New York City.
CG: When did you first realize the importance of music in your life?
MT: Since day 1 I have loved music. Stevens Hewitt, oboist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, was a family friend, and so initially I wanted to play the oboe. But due to asthma I moved on to piano and violin. My undergraduate degree from Juilliard was in composition, with a minor in violin.
CG: What do you find the most challenging in conducting?
MT: It is very challenging when I work with musicians who limit their own capacity to make music. Everyone has room to grow, but not everyone will go beyond their “comfort zone.”
CG: How much time do you spend familiarizing yourself with a score before you begin rehearsal?
MT: It depends. By now I have conducted virtually all the standard repertoire, so I’m either confirming my initial understandings, or reaching new realizations.
CG: Do you find it helpful to listen to recordings of a piece before you conduct it?
MT: I do not listen to recordings as a rule, not even of my own performances. One value of recordings though is that it can be a valuable tool for someone working on expanding their hearing to incorporate all the tones.
CG: Which composer do you find the most challenging to conduct?
MT: Music that does not make “internal sense” is the most challenging to conduct. I generally conduct standard repertoire without a score. But that is only possible if the work can be experienced as a whole ...if all the tones give meaning to all the others.
CG: Can an orchestra ever be too rehearsed?
MT: The time to play a concert is when the orchestra has reached its peak. After that, it’s likely that more is less.
CG: What do you enjoy most about conducting?
MT: The point of experiencing music is to be exalted, to be moved. And when the conditions in sound allow such an experience, whether I’m conducting or just listening, there is no better. It’s a kind of magic.
CG: What about conducting classes?
MT: We want to come to the podium with an understanding of how the tones can come to life in the most moving, most beautiful way. We want to be able to absorb all the tones with a mind unencumbered by extraneous thoughts. We need a body free from unnecessary muscle tension that prevents us from connecting gestures to sounds. And finally, with a free mind and a free body, we can become a full upper-body manifestation of those sounds. This is the most effective conducting, and these are the components we work on: building musical understanding, absorbing all the sounds, ridding the body of unnecessary tension, and ultimately how to be the music.