Concertgoers at the Meyerson Symphony Center this weekend will witness a rare site in classical music – a young, female conductor. KERA’s Stephen Becker reports Alondra de la Parra brings a fresh perspective to the classical world:
- KERA Radio story with music:
- Online version:
Exposing audiences to Latin music is one of De la Parra’s goals, but she still considers Beethoven and Brahms her bread and butter. She hopes for a day when those Germans can be played alongside the Latins.
DE LA PARRA: “I don’t think it should just be a concert of Latin music. I think it should be one piece by a Mexican composer, then a French composer, then a Russian composer then a German composer. Whatever works musically, that’s how it should be.”
For orchestras, attracting a younger, more diverse audience while keeping long-time fans happy is tricky. The Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas she founded in New York City at age 23 attracts young crowds. She says the real problem is that concertgoing rules – when to clap, when to stand – intimidate newcomers.
DE LA PARRA: “If you just tell them, ‘Come and enjoy. All you need to do is sit there and listen and you’ll be moved. There will be moments where you will get goose bumps, and you’ll figure out what to do with that and how to process it and how to understand it. And then come back.’”
Inviting conductors that look more like that potential audience helps, too. De la Parra just turned 30 and looks nothing like the baton wielding white-haired stereotype people have of conductors. As a Mexican woman, De la Parra acknowledges she can be a bridge to new classical fans. But she’s quick to point out who she is will only get them in the door once.
It’s what she does that will keep them coming back.
DE LA PARRA: “It’s about energy and spark, and that never ages. That never ages.”