NEWS has arrived from Baltimore, where youthful Canberra conductor Leonard Weiss is doing a two-year master’s course at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Unsurprisingly, his classes have been moved online, but faculty members and guests, he reports, are being generous with their time in online classes and additional individual e-meetings, with plans to study Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade”, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and more symphonies by Beethoven in the coming months.
But before measures to contain the coronavirus were in place, the current semester was, Weiss says, “a whirlwind of activities”.
In February, for instance, he made his opera debut conducting a full production before a packed house at Peabody of a new work, Kaija Saariaho’s “Émilie”, a collaboration between the new music faculty, director Garnett Bruce and Grammy-award-winning faculty member, soprano Elizabeth Futral.
Then he had the opportunity to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra in a masterclass with its music director Gianandrea Noseda.
On ordinary weeks he’s been following a busy schedule of classes in German, Alexander Technique and opera coaching, observing the Baltimore Symphony rehearse and progressing through major works, such as Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4, four of Beethoven’s symphonies, Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and symphonies by Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Dvořák.
It’s impossible to suppress Weiss’s excitement as he recounts his musical experiences so far – masterclasses with Antony Walker, musical director of Pittsburgh Opera and Evans Mirageas from Cincinnati Opera, conducting the world premiere of a colleague’s new piece “The Moon,” observing Aussie conductor Simone Young’s rehearsals with the New York Philharmonic.
Virus permitting, he hopes to be back home for a working visit in the middle of this year.