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Eric Stern is a 50-year veteran of Broadway, the recording studio, and the concert stage as a conductor, music director, arranger, and orchestrator. He has 20 Broadway musicals to his credit and has concertized and recorded with such diverse artists as Dawn Upshaw, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Barbara Cook, and Betty Buckley, among many others. He has had a longstanding guest conductorship with the BBC’s National Orchestra of Wales, showcasing American symphonists including Roy Harris, David Diamond, John Adams, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein, among others, as well as many of the great movie composers.
Stern has been lucky enough to lead some of the world’s best orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Pops, among others.
"I have always been sensitive to the wariness between so-called classical and popular musicians as I have always had a leg in each camp. This is one of the reasons I regard Berklee so highly. The discussion here is whether the music is good or not, regardless of genre. I’m not sure we appreciate just how rare this is. In my experience, the cross-pollination between disparate styles is a powerful catalyst for creativity, and I try to embody this in my teaching."
"Conducting encompasses so much that is music. One must be part musicologist, theoretician, teacher, coach, cheerleader, disciplinarian, scholar, and, of course, time-keeper. All that aside, there is nothing that compares with the physical relationship you learn to form with the music itself, constructing and performing aerial geometry that somehow conveys the essence of each moment. It’s not just the mechanics, but the meaning of the music. What excites me most is when a student discovers—even if only fleetingly—how it feels to experience that and to have musical meaning flow through you. That’s the magic for me."
"In the classroom we try to explore leadership issues in conducting, as well as technical issues: the intangible qualities that allow an individual to convey his or her ideas to a group. Paramount are musical preparedness, physical practice, and expressive skills. We try to get everyone up on their feet every week, conducting me at the piano, as well as the NOTION playback software. It is particularly exciting when a student conductor takes a musical idea in a direction no one expected, choosing a different tempo or a different way of feeling a phrase. These moments bring together the elements of musicality and leadership with a satisfying clarity."
"We also explore the basics of score reading and variations of orchestra seating. For some students, this is their first exposure to serious concert music. That is why historical context and basic theoretical issues are also touched upon."