What was the most beneficial aspect of the Hart Institute for Women Conductors for you?
When I took part in the Hart Institute, I already had a decade of experience under my belt, but I was having trouble getting noticed by larger organizations and agencies. As I was searching for new management, I reached out to many individuals and institutions, only to be ignored or quickly brushed off. It was understandable – managers get hundreds of emails from artists, I didn’t fit a typical profile, and they hadn’t heard of me. Luckily, the Hart Institute resources included mentorship by a retired leader from a major artist management firm. He was impressed by my resume, and immediately asked why I wasn’t represented by a bigger agency. When I told him that, lacking connections with major decision-makers in the field, I was having trouble getting management agencies to notice me, he suggested I write again, but this time including his name in the subject line. Suddenly, every agency I had emailed before responded—to messages with the exact same materials and content. Within a few weeks, I was choosing between four leading management companies.
Another one of the most valuable aspects has been the opportunity to join a community of other conductors who have had similar challenges and experiences. The camaraderie that forms among a cohort can help build an essential network among artists. The existence of a cohort also ensures that an artist does not feel the constant pressure of being “the other,” or the burden of representing an entire race, gender, or culture. Building a supportive community allows an artist to flourish.
Do you have a favorite moment from the Institute you would like to share?
There was a very special moment when all the conductors sang “Happy birthday” on video for my husband, Dan Schwartz! (This can be linked from YouTube.) There is also a wonderful camaraderie between the participants that has lasted through the years. Just within the past couple of weeks, I had a video chat with a participant from year 2 whom I met at our first reunion, and a conductor from my year came to my concert in London!
More from Lidiya Yankovskaya
WORKING TO CREATE A PLURALITY OF VOICES WITHIN CLASSICAL MUSIC
THE CATALYST-CONDUCTOR: CONDUCTORS AS MUSICAL LEADERS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY