Faculty Spotlight: Tamara Dworetz
We are thrilled to welcome the fantastic Tamara Dworetz to our conducting faculty in July. Tamara, an Atlanta native, is a Senior Clinician in Instrumental Conducting at the Conductors' Collective, and is enjoying an already fruitful career after graduating with an MM in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Texas at Austin.
We wanted to spotlight Tamara this week because of her exciting residency with the Dallas Opera as part of the 2019 Hart Institute for Women Conductors beginning this weekend. We spoke with Tamara about her background and what her experience has been as a conductor, particularly as a woman in a field too-often dominated by men.
CCE: Tell us about your exciting upcoming project with Dallas Opera.
TD: From October 27–November 9 I will participate in a two-week residency with the Dallas Opera as a part of their 2019 Hart Institute for Women Conductors. Along with five other female conductors from around the world, I'll be instructed by world-class opera conductors and musicians and take learn in various masterclasses and career workshops. The residency culminates in a concert on November 9 for which I'll conduct three pieces with the Dallas Opera Orchestra and world-class singers.
CCE: How did you decide that you wanted to become a conductor?
TD: I was inspired and supported by a community of musicians and teachers growing up. Two powerful inspirations early on were Scott Stewart––my conductor in the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony (AYWS) which I performed in as a high school trumpet player––and my 10th grade Georgia All-State Orchestra Conductor, Michael Palmer, former Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Both Scott Stewart and Michael Palmer were fantastic educators and musicians and illuminated this magical world of classical music. I literally remember leaving AYWS rehearsal one night feeling like I had just experienced something other-worldly. It was impossible for me to explain back then, but I now know it was this powerful feeling of deep connection, energy, and sense of purpose with the other 75 teenagers in the room through our performance of music. Being immersed in classical music now, I want to always remember that raw, electrifying feeling, and I hope to help create that magical space and sense of aliveness for young musicians in my future.
CCE: As a woman, what hurdles have you faced in your professional development as a conductor? Did you ever feel discouraged, or external negative pressure, and how did you overcome it?
TD: I have two initial responses to this question:
1) The lack of female role models. Glass ceiling-breaking maestras like Marin Alsop have done so much for women conductors (and others!), but female conductors of major orchestras are still SO rare. It wasn't until age 30, believe it or not, that I saw a female orchestra conductor live in concert. I was lucky to see Mirga Grazintye-Tyla conduct at Proms this past summer, and it was a completely unexpected "ah-ha" moment. I had no idea how powerful it would be to see her conduct. She had no pretenses and was such a team-player and collaborator with the orchestra. It gave me a much stronger and clearer vision of how I too could fit into the world as a professional conductor.
2) Women tend to apologize way more than men, and I am certainly someone who falls into that apologetic category. It's passed on from generation to generation. Women are less likely to take up space and more likely to apologize for something unnecessarily. I think women are more quickly discredited than men at the same level. Women need to be OK being strong, and the rest of the world needs to be OK with that, too. But it starts with women as role models for other women. Finding strong women who model self-confidence, self-esteem, compassion and strength I think is essential. Because I have had all male music teachers, I've adopted several female teachers.
CCE: What things do you think women conductors can do to flourish professionally and shine as the incredible artists they are?
TD: When you as a layman to define a maestro or a conductor, I would bet a lot that most would use "he" pronouns. Obviously that image needs to change, and I think the best gift women can give to themselves and to the world is simply to be themselves and own their femininity and entire personality––from the way we dress to the way we move, speak and interact. It's not just about being a certain gender, it's also about bringing our whole selves to the podium, so we can make music more authentically and also show the world that what we share with each other matters a whole lot more than our pronoun.
A major part of our commitment to progress and excellence in conducting (and classical music writ-large) is promoting the work and artistry of women, and bringing fantastic conductors like Tamara and our other women on faculty to mentor our participants is a fundamental component of that belief.
Applications open December 1! Keep an eye out!