Chelsea Tipton II,, the new principal pops conductor for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, will be on the podium Sunday, March 8, in Shelton for "Big Band Meets the Symphony."
Phyllis A.S. Boros
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
More and more, what defines a great conductor in America is technical ability coupled with a wizardry to instill within musicians a sense of joy and a desire to perform at the highest level possible.
Sounds fairly straightforward: Talent should be the bottom line. But at one time, American orchestra administrators and board members would seem to favor white European males, who were thought to be better trained than their American counterparts.
As the world has changed, so have music circles, making room (albeit slowly) for men and women of all nationalities, sexual orientation and racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
And, of course, that's the way it should be, says Chelsea Tipton II, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra's new principal pops conductor, who is black.
Tipton, starting his first season with the NHSO, said in a recent chat from New Orleans (where he had a three-night guest-conducting gig with the Louisiana Philharmonic) that it is his experience that wherever he performs musicians want their "conductors to be efficient as possible with their time during rehearsals (where all the important musical decisions are made) and to help them play as well as they possibly can.
"If there is any bias, it certainly isn't with the musicians," who appreciate talent in whatever package it's wrapped, he said.
Tipton, 50, who lives in Beaumont, Texas (where he is music director of the Symphony of Southeast Texas), said the NHSO post is his first as a pops conductor, and that he looks upon it as another musical learning experience.
Plus, he loves "the quality of NHSO musicians," as well as one of New Haven's signature foods: "The pizza is amazing."