Today I interviewed Alan Pierson, artistic director and conductor of one of the best new music ensembles that ever existed: Alarm Will Sound. I've always thought it'd be really awesome to interview him when he and the group were in Columbia. I finally got my chance. Thanks Alan,
Recorded on 2018-07-23
Speakers: Joseph Weidinger and Alan Pierson
It's monday, july twenty third, two thousand eighteen. Have alan pierson here. You're the conductor. Alone will sound. And I'm sure you do a ton of other things which I'm going to ask you about. Cool. Second. But if you are at the random party, alan, and you're asked, what do you do? What do you say? Yeah, that's a great question. I deal with that. I say I'm a doctor. Often we follow it up by saying that I do a lot of music.
Cool. Is that really like the extent of you? Like you are very focused on conducting, like other music movies that you do currently. So they've got other other musical duties or jobs that you do. It's like all sent around conducting. Yeah, yeah, I mean, you know, for alarm will sound I'm both the conductor in the artistic director. Okay. And then I have a similar role at northwestern, where I run their contempt music ensemble.
And they're too I'm conducting. And also so northwestern's in chicago. Yeah. Okay. So you live in scotland? No. No, I live in new york, but I go to chicago, chicago a lot. And I see my partner for that is ben bolter, who's a great conductor in chicago. And so he and I, oh, direct the ensemble. So where does conducting staff and artistic directing begin? Yeah, I mean, the artistic directing is about developing the programming.
Developing the ensemble is a whole setting. The course of where the ensemble is going in the case of alarm will sound. That's a really collaborative process. So really, that's about leading the whole group. Uh, you know, way figure that stuff out together. So an alarm will sound. Artistic directing is really about like, marshaling all of these people who have, you know very much their own interests and personalities and figuring out engaging, all of them working together and figure out what was going to do on right, you know, so it's kind of flat organization would say like, you're the leader, obviously, and you make probably a lot of most of decisions, but like everyone has, I could say in it this far, it sounds like it's even.
It's even more robert back. I mean, you know, at the end of the day when a decision has been made, there's always someone who's in power to make it. And for the artistic decisions usually mean for more managing decisions. It's our managing director talk. But the expectation is that the decisions that we make will reflect what the group is interested and wants to do. You know, if I ever make a decision that is contrary to what is a clearly expressed will of the group people, you know, I want to know why, right, reasonably pissed off about that because, like the ethos of the group is that if the group wants to go here, we should really try to go here, right?
And if we're not going to go here than there should be a reason for that, sure. So so, like, take this performs you said you were trying a few weeks ago. Yeah, so, like that's like, that's a big if someone calls you open, says, I want you to play here like I want to play any music here and you decide on the programme or like, how's that work? Generally, and I know, every case is probably dead. Every case is really different.
I think in that particular case, no, it actually started with us saying, hey, we really wanna goto tryingto really way are I mean, I think that's right. Gavin are mounted director because without some more directly, I think it's often some mix of of, you know, what goes out and what comes in. You know, people were people coming us right and then also reaching out, all right? I feel like you're in with some mixes.
That where some composers that we work with, it's okay. I'm worried about good sound, but I think we'll see after a couple of minutes maybe what's happening or else may well have to relocate or something back there. Do you mind if we wait? Okay. Um all right, so let's go back a bit. What's your earliest memory? Oh, mountain. You know I don't trust it. Not if you heard. This is a really interesting phenomenon.
I've read about where, whenever you remember something, you actually rewrite the memory. You can't just read a memory. You're also right. And so, like, I'm like a computer. It's destructive, read, write or less for something like that, right? So that by the time you remembered something for you know, thousands of thousands of times, you're not you're not actually remembering the original thing. You're remembering the memories, so it's like a game of telephone.
But there's no other people involved, right? Is all in your head. That's kind of scary. Kind of scary. You don't trust your least. You know, I have a memory of it's a very like abstract memory. And remember, memory of standing at a fence and like reaching up on dh like looking through a fence and like a park. And how long do you think? Three. Okay, I don't know. Really. Three. Four at your earliest musical memory.
It's probably going to see a man there. A couple, not sure which one came first. I have a memory of piano lessons that I used to toe that I was taking on people's music school in chicago with this really amazing woman named reed asimo, who is kind of a legend in the city of chicago. Rita is an ex dominican nun on she came to chicago, and I think the late sixties, early seventies. Andi just thought everyone needs to have a musical education.
And it's ridiculous that in this country that, you know, people have to pay to get musical educations. And so she started the people's music school and a low income neighborhood on the north side of chicago for with the idea of making musical education available to everybody. Hey, and it was free, and my parents sent me there not because they could before music lessons, but because my mom felt like I should connect with a diverse group of people on, you know, I was therefore in the music school.
I was the only the only white didn't write on dh. It was really it was a comprehensive approach of musical education, where when you went there, I would there for piano lessons, which I was taking with rita herself, who was the founder and director of the school. But you couldn't just god take panel lessons. You had also sing in the choir. You have to take the theory. And how old are you during this period?
Like six. Six. Ok, so fairly young, virile, young, taking piano lessons are you had to like to sing in the choir. You have take music theory, music theory. When you're six years old, that's a very unique it was probably like, you know, music theory. That point. It's probably like site singing and soulful version. All right, was the teacher's name, not a balloon? Right? Read. It was. She's brilliant. She's still around.
Really? Yeah, she's no longer mean she's turned over the directorship of the school with somebody else, but she's still there and is a kind of spiritual leader of the so year from chicago. Yeah, what do your parents do? My mother both are wired. A collection is not true. My dad is sort of semi retired. My dad isa, professor of electrical engineering at purdue university, calumet city and my mom was a high school english teacher for years, and then I quit when I was born to be a full time mom.
And you have a younger siblings. No siblings, really. Just you okay? Yeah. And ah. So during this early, the early parts of your life who was most influential, would you say, roo? Who was your role model? A mentor that you looked at the most was a parent or someone outside your family? Um I'm not sure I've always I was very close to my parents, and I do admire my parents a lot. I can't remember in particular who I most admired when I was that age.
I mean, one person who might have been is the other early musical memory I have, which is of another woman who I really admire named ella jenkins, who is also still around. She's well into her nineties now. Come on is an african american children finger on she she's amazing. L a you know it's from chicago without from chicago has lived in chicago for decades on she. Toured the world, singing doing shows for children, okay and you wrote, wrote her own songs but also gathered songs from all over the world.
And in a time, really before, multiculturalism was a thing. Hello, wass. Doing these multi cultural performances aimed their children where she would, you know, teach the kids to sing in all different languages songs from all over this. You learn from first hand experience, right? Right. And then you get kids, you know, kids standing up, playing instruments, you know, it was very interact. So you're always musically engaged, like from day one, basically, are your parents musical?
My dad is my dad is an amateur french horn player, you know, played pretty seriously as a kid and then on and continue playing very seriously all through college and then you into his early adult years and then kind of got away from it, you know, around the challenges of career, on raising a family on then, as I got more involved in music and as I also no got older and maybe needed less attention, my dad started putting mohr energy back into music again.
And now my dad just got back from a two week long, like chamber music camp that he goes to every summer. And he does lots of playing around chicago. Awesome. Yeah, that's cool. That's really cool. So you went to during high school, were you? Good student? A really good student really is dead. Your parents, like force you to be scared, student? No, no. Wanted to be a good student. Yeah. How do you how do parents professing my parents like made me being a good student and I didn't really want to be.
But you don't like how how is it possible that kids like, want to be good students? I think something my parents like, really nailed with me and that I really admire them for is I think, from a young age. Instilling a sense that I made my own choices on dh would then have to deal with the ramifications of those traces. Right? You know, so I think when I think I think the theory behind that is that when you tell a child you better get a zero, I'm going to be mad at you.
Then it becomes about pleasing you, which is not really not necessarily something a child cares about. Whereas if you if what you instill in them and said is a sense of like, you're going to make your own priorities and those priorities have ramifications and, uh, you know, hear, the things will happen. If you do accent here, things will happen if you do, why what do you want to do? And that was always really how my parents approached me on dh.
So I feel like I'm a pretty young age. I was I was a self starter on really set my own priorities in my own agenda and did the things that were important to me. And if anything, with school. I remember my mom, you know, many times saying to me, uh, don't get straight. A's like better. Really? Yeah. It was never about grades from emma. Mom always believed in learning and always believe in developing the whole person and felt like it would be better for me, too, you know, not always put school first on dh.
Better teo, you know, you know, don't get like season dees. I remember her saying, but I know my mom felt it would be better to get, you know, a mix of a's and b's and experience other sides of life rather than just focusing on school work, but instead experiencing other sides life. You just decide to focus on school anyways, I never felt I don't think I ever I would not like a kid who was obsessed to school.
It just came naturally to you, and you put effort into it anyways, right? I think I was good at school. You know, I don't really want to do things. Well, I think I generally hit a I think I generally as a kid had a sense of yeah, I wanted to sort of do things right on. But, you know, I was also, I don't know, the school was ever my top priority. I was I was a kid. You always had lots of projects, can non musical projects or they all stand around music?
No music. When I was a kid was not at all like, clearly think that I was going to do with my life because you studied physics at mit is well, in addition to me, yeah. And when I was a kid, I mean, there were so many things I was interested in is a kid like and I wouldn't know. I was very like, math with some I was like a real mouth obsessed kid home on, you know, I think when I would come home at the end video is, you know, had math projects.
I have, like, art projects. I was I got really into, like, filming and wanted to be, you know, I wanted to like at one point like me, I was really into, like making my own comedy shows and scripting, and at one point I was pretty serious about becoming a writer. So I was a kid. He was always doing lots of different things on dh. Those projects which we're really all over the place where, what, I think I was really passionate about it.
Winded music sort of materialized as like this is one focus on more than anything else. Yeah, not until well into college. You know, when I started on my team I remember. I think, you know, I knew when I went to college that I would have to do fewer things that I have to focus more. Andi, I think I made a choice around that time to put aside writing, which I've been really passionate about. And, um, I sort of have music be my main other, my main, like, not school related activity.
But I started on my tea with the idea that, you know, I would do physics and math and I think maybe some literature or maybe I was still interested in writing. At that point, I remember how seriously on dh music and then it was really, you know, in like they probably like third year of college that it became clear to me that, uh, music was where I really wanted to go. Cool. So I was briefly reading one of your other interviews.
And from you, my tv is someone faster upside here. Liz says you have a hunger for music, and you're among the most gifted music students I've had in my teaching of almost forty years. Well, what does having a musical gift? I mean, two. It's I don't know that I can answer that. And it's funny. I am. Yeah, I really appreciate that comment, but also like I'm around such phenomenally talented people now who oh, have been.
Look, people, alarm will sound what? Have, like really like encyclopedic minds for music? No. And so many people. Alarm was sounded like this. Voracious appetites and memories for all different kinds of music. Yeah, many of them. You know, I have had been like that since they were really young. And I don't know. I think I came to music later on. You know, I look at someone like I won't name names. So many people, so many people in alarm will sound who you know I work with and look out and say and just, like, say, man, you will really have enormous gift for doing this.
I don't know. I don't I don't want him. I don't know that. I want to say that about myself if you like. For me, like music is something I've come to and that I worked really hard at right. You mean you have to work hard. You have to work harder, like compensate for your you're not as superior encyclopedia or just general musical gift your counter. I don't know that. I don't know that. I wanted, like, evaluate what gift I have for doing that.
But I do feel like they're people from. I feel like music comes really not really out on music is something I always really loved, and that drew me in deeper and deeper as I got older. But I don't to me. It's been something I've been driven to do and that I've been passionate about and that I've had to work a lot of right. It's I don't know that's ever felt to me like again interesting and how much that is my being different from like people that I admire and see has been gifted, or how much of it is just what it looks like from the inside or the outside?
I don't know, but, like, you know, hearing that comin from professor epstein. What? I'm really grateful that he felt that way. And like I really appreciate and love that comment. It's not what it feels like from inside. I think there's a little humble listen. That too so but that's like he said, the inside out versus the accident or whatever. So what? What appeals to you? Our percussionist in college? Right?
R no, no, no. I'm out of the percussionist in my group hearing about and cracking up right now. No, I mean, I'm I played some percussion. You know what? My instruments okay. Okay. You know, I studied piano. There was like. A brief period of my life when I was a good pianist, which also took a lot of work and went away with the one I've got working out right on dh percussion with something I like kid on the side.
Really? Because I wanted to be an ensemble's. I was always, like, really drawn to large group music making on when I you know, in high school, I've been the guy who sat at the piano and filled in the parts that we're missing in the orchestra. And then when I came teo m. I t, you know, that role didn't really exist. And so the way to get involved in playing in ensembles was to play percussion. So, you know, I would play piano in the orchestra and the concert grounds, but there wasn't that much piano.
And so when there wasn't piano, I was playing percussion. And I certainly never had, like, do you know anything? Even approaching like, decent chops the percussion of but the parts weren't usually that hard and, you know, I could do it. Cool. So of these four musical components, which which one is the most appealing to you? Melody, harmony, rhythm and tambor. I got to save rhythm, okay? Anyone who's worked with me, you know, I would be able to add to that forming.
I think that's that's always been the part of music that's your drawing me the most. Ah, on dh. It's almost like the first thing that I hear and think that I think I'm most sensitive too. You know, a za conductor. Rhythmic problems. They're really distracting for me. Arrhythmic problems. They're really distracting, like if something's going wrong rhythmically, you know something? I can't listen to anything else that's like what I what I feel.
Oh, rhythm and tempo are things that I think you know I'm probably most I guess it makes sense. I mean a conductor like that's you're concerned about everything, obviously. But like it's visible component. Everybody else's certainly like keeping the rhythm together. It's true, it's true, although you know, there are definite conductors who are maur obsessed with temper on dh. You know, I september and head temper is really, really important.
I mean, it's something that I've tried to become more attuned to and I'm still trying to become more attuned to and better about working with is a conductor. I think sometimes I think sometimes my fact, like rhythm is what is. What draws me first is the destruction. It means that I'm focusing on their own thing. And you know, it's something there. Times that strikes me, that i'll be rehearsing something and really focused on rhythm.
And then i'll step back and somebody really was really what is most important. But I've definitely had experienced what I will do that and then listen to recording of what I had to this time, I think, oh, man, you know, like, the thing that felt really important to me on the podium actually isn't that important. And it's not rhythm that really matters. What really matters here is tambor or tuning. Uh, and so, you know, over time, I've worked to develop those muscles of working with tuning in tambor more.
And I'm still working at that on sometimes a distraction from that is my instinct to focus on rhythm. Right? Well, I'd see, you know, when I look at you conduct that thing that sticks out to me is like the clarity of gestures above, like also just there's, like when you hear a little sound, play something. It's like, if there was someone if there were, like, you're with me, you know, you're really yeah, very instinctive tones and whatever, right?
Right. Your gestures. We're very late. Articulate, if that's a yeah. So that isn't surprising with rhythm. Yeah, and that's you know, part of that is I think part of that reflects like, what's important to me. Naturally, part of that reflects what what the players have needed. You know, I really grew up with these people on dh. I'm, you know, I'm open on try to be really open in terms of, you know, hearing from people what they need for me.
And especially when I was like still, you know, young conductor and really figuring things out, you know, something that, like I got a lot of what it was, you know, it was always things about clarity about like, what the players needed if they needed anything. Wass more clarity, um, maur rhythmic clarity, more rhythmic precision and accuracy and studying. No, I guess you can never have too much. Someone was tell me like improvisation, that like when they instruct people how to improvise, they say that you don't even have people focus on the notes.
That is too hard. At first. You know, the first and foremost thing is rhythm. You just like you play random those and just get the rhythms that you want in, you know, because he'll sound better, faster if you worry about the rhythms first, so right and you can always do more work with rhythms, right? And for you know the kind of thing we do in particular. Where were they challenging? You know, the what? The what?
The players, tent cities. The thing that the players will ask for, you know, players will sell them, say no. And maybe this is unfortunate, but players will sell them. Say, hey, I love for you to show more phrasing here or oh, hey, I feel like all right? I guess sometimes they will say right occasionally, all here like I feel like you could do us. But you know, more than anything, if if there's something that I'm not if I hear that I'm theirs and this is less truth, I've got more experience.
But certainly I was a young conductor. If there was ever something that that a player would tell me they needed more, it had to do with rhythm and with clarity. And so I think there there's sort of a natural tendency than because of that which arises from the kind of music idea where that is really necessary for me to of worked on those gills that you're seeing, which is being really clear and precise and rhythmic, which I think you think sometimes is, uh, you know, not what a conductor needs to do, and I do something that that I worry about.
Some is the, uh, having done so much music where that is really critical and having through experience of performers, sort of learned over time to give a lot of that uh I wonder sometimes if you know I do more of that than I need to. Something. I remember my my teacher, my first serious conducting teacher, broad loveman at the stern school of music. He would always get the same compliment that you just gave me, which is like, oh, you're so clear on and I know exactly where to play with you because you're really rhythmic and you're really clear and that's that's great and I really appreciate that.
And that's assuring those air compliments. I get a lot at another compliments and broad got a lot, and brad always took it as a backhanded compliment, right? Always. I remember broad whenever his clarity was praised. He would always. It's sort of a little hurt by it. Like what he wanted people to say was, while you're a really beautiful, expressive conductor and was always really frustrated at what he got was, you know, you're really clear.
Well, certainly a lot of the beauty and music is the rhythms and that right needed clarity. And certainly art music, you know, like clarity is just such a big word in anyways. Yeah, and for me personally, I I empathize with your bride's coming from on. I do feel I do want to work on other sides of my conducting. But, you know, I really appreciate hearing from you hearing that compliment. I feel like it's very frustrating for players when they need to know when to play something and don't and are getting that from the conductor.
Right? So so when you're working on, like when you're, when do you? How much time do you spend preparing for a piece versus how much time you spend with the people that is going to perform it? Like, how much rehearsal time do you have in relation to how much time you have to prepare for the peace? Yeah, it really depends. That's totally case by case. I mean, there are, you know, pieces that I've spent, you know, dozens, hundreds of hours with, for ever walking into a room and doing them with players.
They're pieces that, you know, I might spend an hour with before walking into doing a player is a really, really tough, huh? You just spend as much time as you as you feel that you need or a cz much as possible, or like when you're you spent fifteen hours on it, and then all the sounds like, ok, I don't need to work on this anymore. Except maybe look at it once a day for a couple of minutes or yeah. Is there a moment that you reach?
It totally depends on the situation, the music, the players. With the where the performances. You know what? What? What? The performances, I think, and what's been in my life, you know, it's always the standard for myself, is that, you know, I always walk into a first, verse it with a piece, you know, totally internalized so that, like I know every sound and know exactly what I want. And it's something. And if something isn't what it's supposed to be or what I'm imagining it being, I reacted out.
That's always the goal, a lot of that. A lot of these pieces you're premiering, too, right? Yeah. And you may not even know what it sounds like. Maybe a midi recording that or something like that. But you you have to prepare a lot of pieces that you have no really complete picture. Or maybe you visualize it strongly enough that you have a perfect I don't know, but like how if you're preparing a piece that has never been played before, there's no recording like do you go through the piece and like you try to hear every single imagine every single thing and imagine together and like is it that intense?
I mean, that's what I would like to do. Um, that doesn't always happen. I would say that doesn't usually happen. I think if it is, if I'm going to doing a new piece. With an orchestra. Uh, that doesn't know me. And, you know, rehearsal time is short. I'm going to really? That's what I mean to really try to do right. In a situation like what we're doing this week here in colombia, where it's a ton of new music.
I know these players really well. I trust them on. There's also a lot of music, and I don't have time. I don't that many hours learn it all. I'm not going to do that right now. In a case like this, uh, it is more about figuring out what do I need to know? We will lead the players through a rehearsal process in those and I, you know, in a piece. Right. I mean, and also we're working with the composer, so, like there may be.
And eh, a situation like this, I might run into a sound or like an instruction for a sound. I don't quite understand where you know the the composer's asking for a specific sound that I'm unfamiliar with. If I were doing a show like that in an orchestra, I don't wantto especially it was unfamiliar players. I don't know. I don't want to, really. You know, maybe any players I don't know or students I would want to really go into that knowing exactly what the sound is, exactly how it has to be produced and really have it in my imagination to expect that sound at that moment on dh know whether I'm getting in or not.
And that's always something I would like to do in a situation like this where you know, I know the players going really on top of their own stuff. I know the composer is going to be there. I feel like is more that seem that feels less essential. You know, it's more freedom for the dialogue in between and and also because it is it's pretty unlikely the players are going toe just like completely miss on unexpected instruction or going not know how to do it.
But it's more than I trust them and that also the composer is there and will tell us what's the idea of peace is our lady of the sound is so all of that means that it's a little less on me then it is, if it's, you know, a professional orchestra, a group of students on unfamiliar situation where I don't know the players and in those situations feels much more on me, and I feel much more pressure to come with all the answers.
Yeah, that makes sense. Eso. You see a lot of new music, obviously, um, and one of the ways like I'm interested in pop music and film music, too. And and one of the reasons are ways that pop and film music is really innovative is like the production that going into a recording, right? And, you know, all the post production that nobs and that synthesizer just mixing that sound intercourse. But we're as art music is more concentrating, concentrated on making acoustic music and recording exactly as as the sound comes out of the instrument.
And it's like it's a huge divide over because, okay, what what I want now is, do you see that changing ever that the whole lie vers has recorded or art music also getting involved in more sound production? That's elektronik. There is something like this. I mean, they're already like trying sound production pieces that involved, but it's more like for for live performance. Yeah, I think that's already happening.
And you know when we do recording, there are some times when we're really trying to make a document of how we play have according really feel like organic and acoustic and something that we're going for amore produced studio kind of sound, you know, and that where the recording is more about making something that stands on its own, and that is a studio creation rather than rather than, like performance document.
So I think I did cross, but I think definitely classical music, you know very much tend towards the former like recording as a document of a performance. But there's a tradition in classical music of, you know, the other way of doing it. Glenn gould was really passionate about recording on as something that could make something that could be done in life performance making something that was not possible to be live, basically, is that we've I think in this case, it was probably more about, like, perfect in something, you know, using the recording opportunities away, like create a sort of whatever perfect interpretation, whatever interpretation he wanted and be able to sort of stand back from it like make it listen at a and really like, create in the studio what he wanted.
And also times where you put the microphones and how that effects sound. I think that was something he was related into, uh, on you know, they're I think there is still tendency of classical music to be more focused. That sort of ethos of recording should be a document of you know, what? What of a performance of what? It would sound like live, but we certainly don't feel that way. And I don't feel that way when you get in the studio year old for the devoting yourself to the peace and doing whatever is necessary to like, not be so strict about the lives this recording.
Yeah, I mean, there there and there there's all the things that could mean about, you know, one is just like the editing thing, which is like, you know, there are kinds of, uh there's a level of precision that, you know, you want to get on a recording that is greater than what can be achieved in real life. And I've always been a fan of that, you know, like from the very first recordings. I did, um you know, like, I was really into editing a lot and into using editing as a way to really get, uh, you know, get the perfect performance that I had in my head.
Then there's another kind of bob leaning into the studio, which is, you know, going for a kind of sonic creation that is not what could ever happen live, you know, create creates sonic piece on recording that couldn't exist in a concert when the light when strings are louder than trombones for some great, you know, but also, you know, some of that we can achieve live with amplification. That's true on dh.
I think these things are connected. You wear recently in china on dh work with a composer there who was, like a very passionate about the idea that musicians should never be amplified, that it is kind of, um, paul on dh break some ethics. Oh, and I understand that idea that you know what we're doing. It's an acoustic art on dh. You know, people feel this around singers. People get very passionate about the idea of that.
Opera singers should not be amplified, and it's not something I feel. I really feel like what it's about for office, creating experience for the audience and then an experience for the listener on cd or on, you know, mp three or screaming or whatever on that that is enabled by things you can use the studio and that it would be, you know, foolish, too. All right, to close off that door. Angry. Ah, so when you're conducting, are there any rituals or teens and your process of preparation?
Come. On. When I'm studying, I make a lot of freeze markings like one of the fun morning, like fundamental things that I do and learning a piece is divided up into phrases, which I do with, like big, big vertical lines in, uh, and there's a larger scale thing of that. I always conduct off the tablet, so all this stuff, it's in digitally. Now, um, is going through and putting, and it's in the pdf for, like, you know, structural points those air to like rituals, which are about seeing macro structure in the piece, you know, finding finding both the phrase breaks and the larger section breaks.
And then doing that really helps me, like, makes sense with the whole. What about, like, like when you're preparing for this. Do you have your special cup of coffee? Or here, no piano or something? You're you don't crafton environment like you made the switch to doing things on tablet, which is, you know, a lot. Things are a lot of people don't like jerry seinfeld wrote. All these jokes are something on like the same pin right piece of paper, and he doesn't want to see that cursor.
It's harder maybe it's just it changes with age, I don't know, but you don't have any of like, no, just the opposite. Like I feel like part of being an artist who lives on the road a lot. I really try not to have very particular ways that I need things to be because you have to be flexible. Yeah, everything right, right. I mean, I like being someone who you know, whether I'm sitting in a hotel room or an airport or subway see or my apartment, I can do whatever the things there that I need to do.
Um what are you? Some problems that you regularly must solve? Any profession that you don't enjoy, solve? Nothing. It's funny. I think I've been pretty good. Outsourcing the things that you know. I don't like to do us. You know, I have a lot of amount of my time and so I really try. I really tried to. I spend my time doing things that I really I care about. You want to be doing. Where did you learn all this time?
Management or the idea that you could just outsource something like, is that something that just you you thought of when you said to me demands? Yeah, I think I've always been good at time management and then goes back to what I was talking about about my parents. Yeah, you know, I think something out. It goes back to what I was saying about my parents earlier and the way that they I think by not telling you what to do and structuring my time for me and telling me what was important, they've made it so that I had to do that myself on, you know, for the time that I was a young, really young kids, I think I was really, like, focused on time management, like, you know what I was going to do for these blocks of ours.
That's something I've certainly got better about it, but I think it's it's always been in my nature. And, you know, it was around the time that I started connecting the brooklyn phil that I really felt like, um, man, there's more more for me to do that I could do on dh. You know, I got advice. Hire an assistant to start thinking seriously about what things I was doing could be outsourced. And that coincided with a general sort of getting older thing where you know things that once seemed like interesting didn't seem is interesting.
And so it's really outsourcing some of my responsibilities. Some of the work that I have to do is both about managing my time, but also about, you know, not getting bored. And if there is a task that to me is not that interesting, it's, you know, great. If someone else hopefully does find interesting or at least find it worthwhile, is doing it. So if you were conducting a beethoven sydney with alarm will sound what would be the biggest challenge for your example, aside from the obvious, like lack of, you know, five prince horns or something like that.
Young, I think I mean I think beethoven's symphony would probably kill it. I think it's a group of people that are really great. They would kill her. Yeah, really. That'd be interesting to see. Have you guys ever do anything like that? Just retro. We did a wagner piece, and that was kind of rough. Remember the there's a the kind of like, romantic, expressive of playing that wagner to bound is a little tough for us.
It's, I think, for me and for some of the players, just not where we live enough that it was hard to do but beethoven, you know, while there is, of course, you know, there is a beautiful romantic music. Beethoven, beethoven. Also a lot about, like, a kind of edgy intensity, right? But I think suits alarm will sound really well. What? What is unlike a technical level that your group would struggle over wagner.
Like, like, is it like, what is cem nitty gritty detail that would that was hard. You know, I think it's lending and tuning in that kind of. Esper. Stevo. You know, playing with vibrato. It's just not something. We've done that much as some of our players. Really? Just don't don't do that right at all. There whole professional life is surrounded with, like, playing new music basically form another. Yeah. And if a traditional conductor we're conducting a piece, an alarm will sound.
Typically phase plays. What would be their biggest challenge? So traditional conductor conducting their own orchestra? I mean, the defense in the orchestra. But I think an area, you know, areas where the alarm will sound. Really. It's pretty unmatched is rhythmic accuracy the kind of listening around the room that's happening so that you know that people aren't just playing, you know, with the conductor with their own internal sense of time.
They're really listening and engage with each other. Have playing with the composite, you know, rhythmic group that's happening all around the ensemble. And this is a group of people that really just does that pretty effortlessly, truly deep, deeply ingrained in a group of this point and a lot of music we do depends on that. John and I think you were doing this stuff with a group that that doesn't have as much of that kind of, uh.
Experience with, you know, creating a group together as an ensemble and everyone listening in being a part of that, which is, you know, most orchestras are, and they would find that we find that tough. Yeah, harder. What is how would you rank these three words with respect to explain the success of success of your career? Ambition. Look on talent starting with the most important one first. Oh, man, it's hard.
Probably one, two, three. I feel like ambition and mission's been really important. I've really, you know. Yeah, I mean, being passionate about contemporary music. Yeah, it's hard being in some ways disentangle those first because I think about when I think about the the events that really established my career. It was a mix of being in the right place, the right time, with being really passionate about things, you know, like steve wright is a composer that oh, I was really passionate about.
And, you know, I started conducting his music when I was a sophomore, a mighty and, you know, it was way in over my head and didn't have the skill to do it on, you know, did it? Because, like, I just really wanted to. And then it so happened that, you know, there was a person at m. I. T. Evans of corrine, who was connected with russian, was ableto, you know, bring him in. And then when I went teo eastman, it so happened that I connected with conductor there.
Brown loveman, who I was studying with you, you know, was also able to make oh, help bring rice to eastman. And then, you know, I did this performance on dh. You know, work my ass off. Learning how to conduct hideous on her, you know, was ableto somehow persuade all these students to rehearse for dozens and dozens of ours and gave a performance that, like he was really over the moon about, um oh, you know, helped us that make a recording of so that in that.
So, basically, it's ah, it's like a little ambition, and then look to be in the right place, right? Time to bring him in? Yeah, like stokes. This fire that provides you, like more ambition and more drive. And, you know, like, maybe talent has a piece in that story to probably not like anybody could have done you no conductor. Sure. That piece was telling him that we did. Oh, yeah, but desert music, there's something telling with the original one.
Okay, tell you what I did in a mighty you have an album, right? On the other hand, right? Okay, right. But it's telling that I did it on my tea. And then when when rice came to eastman in nineteen ninety nine did to hell there, too. And, you know, like to me most, that story is like passion, ambition on luck. I'm sure there's some amount of talent, and they're too. But like when I was first take a leak, like I sucked in it, I was really, like, way in over my head.
No, you know, was not good. It's a very hard piece to conduct. And I don't think I was particularly good at it when I first started doing it. Andi, I just decided I wanted to get good at it, so I just kept working on it. And, you know, capt. Banging my head against the walls of the things that I wasn't good at on gradually got better of them. You have to have ambition. Makes your school harder. All right? All right.
So we have, like, three minutes left, and I'm gonna hit you with these last few questions. Well, s o keep in mind the time. Uh, so what is the best thing for human beings? Best thing for a human being. Love being in love. Okay. Oh, how do you find peace of mind? How do I find peace of mind? Uh you think I tried not to push things away? If something's if something's bothering me? I tried to deal with it so that, you know, and when there are quiet moments, you know, when I going off to sleep, taking a shower, going for a walk.
I'm not I'm not plagued by thing, you know, because yeah, there aren't. There are voices in my head that I'm pushing away. No. Which means I don't really have a lot of regrets in my life. I think that helps schools. That's awesome. But this if you don't have any risk in your life, then this might be hard if you're walking down the street today, met yourself in a twelve year old. What would you say to your twelve year old self?
Oh, man. Well, I mean, this goes in the hole over there, and we talked about like I was twelve itself. I would say. Like, it's okay that you're gay. Come out sooner rather than later, huh? Well, you'll be happier. Yeah. When was that moment for you? I mean, the moment of like, I mean, I came out when I was what would have been, like twenty. You know, probably if you know before I really like comfortable. I don't know.
Go there. You know, for five years. Something like that? Yeah. Cool. Better sooner than later. After that. Tell me something good that you've never had. And never once. I never had. A really great car. Or kind of like I don't really wanna have a car. Oh, you don't have a card. Do you have a home? You don't have a car, but that's you live in new york and chicago. I guess you get by. Yeah. Yeah. I don't want a car. If a publisher was to release your autobiography off the top head, what would the title be?
No. That's the heart. That's, uh, not good answering questions like that. What about what? What smell with the binding me? And if they sent to the glue in the binding? I think we have a book. There you go. There's that goblet. Okay. Last question. If your ruler of the world, what would you do on your first day? Oh, I would. I would resign and place a solid democratic foundation that I thought would wood. Help us avoid and all right.
I think I would try to. I would. I would try to come up. I would. I would try to put in place some kind of system that I thought was democratic and wood help enable people to make well informed choices. You know how you do that by science resigns on his first day. That's the humble allen pearson. Thank you so much. We on this. Thanks for your honesty.