Conversations with Conductors

In these conversations, distinguished conductors talk about their new recordings, their art, and much more. These musicians love what they do and are most eager to share their art with everybody. Let your family and friends know about these conversations, which they can listen to or download anytime here and on our apps.

Anne Azéma

From Boston Camerata‘s website: “French-born vocalist, scholar and stage director Anne Anne Azéma has directed The Boston Camerata since 2008 and the French ensemble Aziman, which she founded, since 2005. Intensely engaged since her student days with the song repertoire of the Middle Ages, she is esteemed as a charismatic solo performer. But she is also widely admired for her creative skill in building and directing complete musical productions of varied styles and periods, both for her recital programs and for larger ensemble forces (concert and stage) in Europe and the United States.” In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and Anne Azéma discuss the Camerata and its CD Free America.

Photo: Anne Azéma/Simone Poltronieri

Podcast: Download

Back to Top

James Blachly

From his website: “James Blachly is a conductor dedicated to artistic excellence and broader accessibility. He currently serves as Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Experiential Orchestra, and Music Director of Geneva Light Opera. Committed to finding new ways of empowering audiences, he is also in demand as a speaker on Listening as Leadership, bringing his expertise as a conductor and passion for music to Fortune 500 companies, schools, and other organizations.” In this podcast, James tells us about his recording of Dame Ethel Smyth’s master-piece, The Prison.

Photo: Olivia Locher

Back to Top

Donato Cabrera

From his website: “Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. He served as the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2009-2016. Cabrera is one of only a handful of conductors in history who has conducted performances with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet.”

In this conversation, Maestro Cabrera speaks with Rob Kennedy about his life and work as a conductor.

Photo: Lenny Gonzales

Karina Canellakis

Karina Canellakis was our guest on the October 2019 edition of My Life In Music. A native of New York City, Maestra Canellakis is the Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Principal Guest Conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. The 2018/2019 season saw her conducting the First Night of the Proms in London and the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm. In this podcast, Karina and Rob Kennedy chat about her life as a musician and conductor.

Photo: Karina Canellakis/Mathias Bothor

Back to Top

Philip Cave

From the Linn Records website: “The Cantiones sacrae is an unusual work that stands quite apart from Schütz’s other published sacred music in both scale and style. The collection comprises forty Latin motets for four voices, plus a figured bass for continuo accompaniment (realized on this recording by lute, violone and organ), which was added later by the composer.” Choral conductor Philip Cave speaks with Rob Kennedy about this critically acclaimed recording.

Photo: Bob Barkany

Back to Top

Sir Stephen Cleobury

From their website: “A double-disc set of orchestral, choral and organ music by one of the most distinguished English composers of the 20th-century. Herbert Howells’ An English Mass is presented by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge with the Britten Sinfonia, recorded in the sublime acoustic of King’s College Chapel. Alongside the work is the magnificent orchestrated Te Deum from the Collegium Regale service, and a premiere recording of the Magnificat from the same service, orchestrated by John Rutter. For both these recordings, the Choir and orchestra are joined additionally by the King’s College mixed voice choir, King’s Voices.” Rob Kennedy and Sir Stephen Cleobury chat about this recording which was the last one which Sir Stephen made before he died on November 22, 2019.

Photo: Sir Stephen Cleobury/Benjamin Ealovega

Back to Top

William Henry Curry

Conductor William Henry Curry has had a long and distinguished career as a conductor, composer, and teacher. Maestro Curry chatted with Rob Kennedy about his early years, musical training, and mentors who shaped his career.

Photo: Michael Zirkle

Back to Top

Cory Evans

Dr. Cory Evans is Director of Choral Activities at Utah State University. From the University’s website: “The Utah State University Chamber Singers consists of versatile and dedicated undergraduate student musicians. The ensemble has garnered an international reputation of artistic integrity, exciting programming, and musical precision, performing to critical acclaim throughout the United States, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Austria, Italy and, most recently, for the Beijing International Choral Festival in Beijing, China.” In this podcast Rob Kennedy speaks with Cory about the choral music program at Utah State University.

Photo: Utah State University Music Department

Back to Top

JoAnn Falletta

“JoAnn Falletta is a mighty figure on the global music scene.”
American Public Media

From her website: “Acclaimed by The New York Times as ‘one of the finest conductors of her generation’, JoAnn Falletta serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Brevard Music Center. In this podcast which originally aired on My Life In Music in February 2019, Rob Kennedy speaks with JoAnn about her life as a musician and conductor.

Photo: JoAnn Falletta/Mark Dellas

Back to Top

Drostan Hall

Founded in 2003 by conductor Drostan Hall, Camerata Chicago is a chamber orchestra equally at home in intimate settings and in larger music venues, performing the rich tapestry of diverse chamber orchestra repertoire, including newly commissioned works. Camerata Chicago recently released an innovative recording of Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Dan McHugh and Drostan Hall, Music Director and Founder of Camerata Chicago, discuss the CD and more.

Photo: Drostan Hall/Camerata Chicago

Back to Top

Nicholas Hersh

From his website: “An avid educator, Nicholas serves as the Artistic Director of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras and directs the BSO’s educational and family programming, including the celebrated Academy for adult amateur musicians. He is a frequent collaborator and guest faculty at the Peabody Conservatory as well as the BSO’s OrchKids program for Baltimore City schoolchildren.” In this podcast which was originally broadcast as My Life In Music in January 2020, Nicholas speaks with Rob Kennedy about his education, life, and career as a conductor.

Photo: Nicholas Hersh/Margot Schulman

Back to Top

Daniel Hyde

Daniel Hyde was appointed to the prestigious post of Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge in October 2019. He succeeded Sir Stephen Cleobury who had retired earlier that year. A superb conductor and organist, Daniel carries on the 500-year-old tradition of the Choir of King’s College, one of the world’s most renowned choral foundations. Daniel speaks with Rob Kennedy about the Choir and its daily operation.

Photo: Daniel Hyde/Patrick Allen

Back to Top

Christopher Jacobson

From the Duke University Chapel website: “Christopher Jacobson joined the Chapel staff in July of 2014. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and was formerly associate organist and choirmaster at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, and assistant organist at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In his roles at Duke University, he oversees the training of the Duke Organ Scholars, conducts the Duke Evensong Singers in Choral Evensong each Sunday afternoon during the academic year, and is responsible for the organ playing at Duke Chapel and Divinity School worship services. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he studied organ with David Higgs, St. Olaf College, and was a treble chorister under James Litton in the American Boychoir. He has played organ recitals throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, and performed the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maurice Duruflé several times across the United States. You can also read about his distinction as a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, as well as the Duke Today interview with him. In his spare time he enjoys running marathons, biking, and sailing.”

In this podcast, Rob Kennedy spoke with Christopher Jacobson about his work as Chapel Organist and Director of the Evensong Choir at Duke University..

Photo: Duke University Chapel

Back to Top

David Jernigan

From his website: “With an increasing interest in conducting, he is founder of multiple professional vocal ensembles, including the Raleigh Bach Soloists, whose frequent performances with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra have included complete period performances of major works by Bach and Handel. David’s love for the music of the Anglican Cathedral tradition has led him to train and conduct choirs involving child/youth choristers, enthusiastic amateurs, and fully professional, degreed musicians who perform on a world stage. He has conducted choral residencies at Westminster Abbey, Gloucester Cathedral, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. In addition, he has conducted services of choral evensong at St. George’s, Windsor, Ely Cathedral, Duke University Chapel, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, as well as Mass Internationale at Notre Dame, Paris.

Currently, David serves as the Organist/Choirmaster at Christ Church, Raleigh, NC, where he oversees a robust choral program that sings weekly services of choral eucharist and choral evensong in addition to domestic and international tours. A composer of choral music, David is published by Paraclete Press. In this podcast, Rob Kennedy and David spoke about the chorister training program David manages at Christ Church, Raleigh.

Photo: Christ Church, Raleigh

Back to Top

Stephen Layton

one of the world’s finest interpreters of choral music…”
Classic FM Magazine

Stephen Layton is one of England’s finest choral conductors. Highly-regarded for his work with the Holst Singers and Polyphony, Stephen has been a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and its Music Director since 2006. Stephen chatted with Rob Kennedy about the Trinity College Choir’s recording of the choral works of Gerald Finzi.

Photo: Keith Sanders

Back to Top

Andrew Litton

In this podcast which originally aired as My Life In Music in July 2019, David Ballantyne speaks with conductor Andrew Litton about his early years, his education, and his work as one of the world’s prominent conductors.

Photo: Steve Sherman

Back to Top

Nicholas McGegan

From the Philharmonia Baroque Productions‘ website: “In a stunning world premiere recording, music director and conductor Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, and an international cast of French Baroque opera stars present Jean-Philippe Rameau’s original 1745 version of Le Temple de la Gloire, with libretto by Voltaire.” Rob Kennedy and early music specialist and conductor Nicholas McGegan discusses his recording of Le Temple de la Gloire which is available on the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra label. You can also listen to it on Spotify.

Photo: Nicholas McGegan/Steve Sherman

Back to Top

James O'Donnell

From the Hyperion website: “James O’Donnell has been Organist and Director of Music of Westminster Abbey since January 2000. He enjoys a varied career as a conductor and internationally renowned organist. Foremost among his responsibilities at Westminster Abbey is the direction of the Abbey Choir, in both its daily choral services and its extensive programme of concerts, tours, broadcasts, and recordings. Among many highlights, he directed the music for the Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 and at many other national occasions, and has toured with the Abbey Choir to the Far East, the United States, Australia and throughout Europe.” Rob Kennedy and James spoke about the Abbey Choir’s new recording Songs of Farewell.

Photo: Clare Clifford

Back to Top

Lee Nelson

Lee Nelson manages an extensive choral music program at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. In this podcast, Rob Kennedy speaks with Lee about the music program, its recordings, and the things which make an education at Wartburg special.

Photo: Julie Drews

Back to Top

Alexander Shelley

From his website:

“Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s NAC Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as being “transformed… hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Shelley’s programming credited for turning the orchestra into “one of the more audacious in North America” (Maclean’s).

Shelley is a champion of Canadian creation; recent hallmarks include the multimedia projects Life Reflected and UNDISRUPTED, and three major new ballets in partnership with NAC Dance for Encount3rs. He is passionate about arts education and nurturing the next generation of musicians. He is an Ambassador for Ottawa’s OrKidstra, a charitable social development program that teaches children life skills through making music together.

Alexander Shelley is also the Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and, starting with the 2024–2025 season, Artistic and Music Director of Artis-Naples and the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, USA. In the spring of 2019, he led the NAC Orchestra on its critically acclaimed 50th Anniversary European tour, and in 2017, he led the Orchestra in a tour across Canada, celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. Most recently, he led the Orchestra in its first performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 30 years.

He has made seven recordings with the NAC Orchestra, including the JUNO-nominated New Worlds, Life Reflected, ENCOUNT3RS, The Bounds of Our Dreams, Darlings of the Muses, Lyrical Echoes, and Atmosphere and Mastery, all with Montreal label Analekta.”

Photo: Rémi Thériault

Back to Top

Fred Scott

From Chanticleer’s website: “Then and There, Here and Now, recorded at Skywalker Sound, features recordings of longtime ensemble favorites including works by Palestrina, Victoria, Stucky, Sametz, and Bates, and popular arrangements by Jennings, McGlynn and others. The recording represents the expansive aesthetic of Chanticleer’s repertoire, from the earliest music to the most recent, some of its favorite composers and arrangers, and the blend of male voices from soprano to contrabass that makes it unique.” Rob Kennedy and Chanticleer’s Music Director, Fred Scott, talk about the group and its 40th anniversary plans. You can listen to the CD on Spotify.

Photo: Lisa Kohler

Back to Top

Andrew Shenton

From his website: “Moving freely between musicology and ethnomusicology Shenton’s work is best subsumed under the heading ‘music and transcendence.’ This is demonstrated, for example, by his recent and ongoing work in popular music, which includes an essay that analyses the acoustic ecology of rave music as a way of negotiating an ecstatic experience (Fordham University Press, 2015), and lectures and writing on how hip-hop has become a complex soundscape that signals religious identity, notably for Christians and Muslims.” Rob Kennedy spoke with Andrew Shenton about his CD Voices of Earth.

Photo: David James

Back to Top

Dmitri Sitkovetsky

From his website:

“A renaissance man and a magnetic creative force, Dmitry Sitkovetsky is recognised throughout the world as having made a considerable impact on every aspect of musical life. A prolific recording artist, with a career spanning more than four decades, he is celebrated globally as a violinist, conductor, creator, transcriber, and facilitator – and holds an undisputed and venerable position in musical society as a giant personality and educator.”

Photo: John Walsh

Back to Top

Barnaby Smith

This octet of professional singers released a CD entitled Enchanted Isle in 2019. From their website: “A glorious journey through the musical landscape of Britain. The album features a broad range of music from John Tavener and Thomas Adès to Radiohead and Enya, interspersed with folk tunes, world premiere recordings and music from hit TV shows Game of Thrones and Harry’s Game.” Rob Kennedy and Barnaby Smith, Artistic Director of Voces8, chat about the recording, the ensemble, and more. You can listen to Enchanted Isle on Spotify.

Photo: Barnaby Smith/

Back to Top

Jeanette Sorrell

From the Apollo’s Fire website: “GRAMMY®-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today’s most compelling interpreters of Baroque and Classical repertoire. She studied conducting under Robert Spano, Roger Norrington and Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. As a harpsichordist, she studied with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam and won both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Israel, the U.S., and the Soviet Union. Sorrell is the founder and artistic director of Apollo’s Fire.”

Photo: Roger Mastrioanni

Back to Top

Alfred E. Sturgis

From the North Carolina Master Chorale’s website: “Alfred E. Sturgis is a highly sought after conductor whose versatility and extensive background allow him to journey comfortably into a wide variety of musical experiences. He currently serves as Music Director of the North Carolina Master Chorale, the Carolina Ballet and the Tar River Orchestra. Known for being a strong collaborative artist, Sturgis has also enjoyed a great deal of experience in Opera and Musical Theatre.”

Photo: North Carolina Master Chorale

Back to Top

Rodney Wynkoop

Rodney Wynkoop holds the title of Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He teaches choral conducting and conducts the 50-voice Duke University Chorale and its Chamber Choir. Rodney has been at Duke since 1984. He was the conductor of the Duke Chapel Choir and its chamber choir, the Schola Cantorum, from 1989 until 2018. Dr. Wynkoop is also Conductor of the 150-voice Choral Society of Durham and its 32-voice Chamber Choir. He is the founder and director of the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Durham, a highly-acclaimed select choir. In this podcast, Rob Kennedy speaks with Dr. Wynkoop about his life and work as a choral conductor.

Photo: Andie Rea

Back to Top