Eric Stern

Associate Professor

"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."

Career Highlights

  • Broadway conductor and arranger for 35 years
  • Conductor of many CDs and live broadcasts
  • Performed with many leading vocalists and instrumentalists both in concert and in the studio
  • Frequent guest conductor for the BBC
  • Grammy, Gramaphone, and Emmy winner