February 4, 2008

Xian Zhang and the Orchestra of St. Luke's

Having been following Marin Alsop's meteoric rise and especially her activities since being appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphony, it was indeed refreshing to read an article in a November issue of the New York Times in which Ms. Alsop speaks of "being the first woman" and her efforts to nurture and mentor the next generation of female conductors.

Xian Zhang, associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was also mentioned in that article, and on the eve of her professional debut at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's she very candidly and soberly addresses the challenges that many women (and dare I say many people) have faced in the workplace, particularly in the world of classical music performance in this New York Times article. Consequently, the review of her performance with the Orchestra of St. Luke's is quite exceptional.

In the first sentence of this review, Bernard Holland insists that "Women in high office are becoming such a nonissue". With the prominence of artists of substance like Ms. Alsop and Ms. Zhang, it may be easy to make such statement. However, being an "ethnic minority" (for what it's worth), and having found myself become the subject of much of the questioning of which Ms. Zhang speaks, I find myself quietly pleased that such honest statements like those of Ms. Alsop and Ms. Zhang - statements made by those who directly experience situations about which conversation can be both controversial and incendiary - are being made about the "state of the state" and hope that these interviews - as well as those to come in the future - will cause many to think about attitudes and begin to embrace social change, judging all people by "the content of their character".

No comments: