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Learning Tricks from Expert Maestros

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 November 2002

Learning Tricks from Expert Maestros
Today, Lisa Xanthopoulou is awarded the Bad Homburg Conducting Competition prize/evening concert

Winning the Bad Homburg Conducting Competition came just at the right time for Lisa Xanthopoulou. The career of this young musician had just started to show an upwards trend, with concert appearances and contracts in Cottbus, Nuremberg, Baden-Baden, Vienna, and guest performances in the opera houses in Würzburg and her home town of Thessaloniki "the heavens opened and a bravo came down". In her talk to this newspaper, the spirited but also reflective artist described her feelings about the prize thus: as an affirmation and encouragement along her path, as an energy reserve before the next defeat, "which will surely come. But my fears are no longer those of youth, now I just let everything happen."
It all started for the six-year-old with piano lessons. She was soon fingering out Greek songs by ear, found the instrument was "fun", was picked out throughout her schooldays as an accompanist and choir leader, discovered that she could express herself and her love of music best in ensemble work......
The musician sees differences, too, between rehearsing and conducting a performance. Rehearsals demand a clear, didactic, psychological and utterly convincing communication of the musical concept, borne on perfect pitch and musical ear, a feeling for rhythm, melody, balance of sound, and the style of the work itself "Meticulous work, with aura, eyes, hands, fingers. I speak with gesture, less and less with words, only the bare essentials, short and concise." And, during the performance as well, conducting has a great deal to do with aura. "But the gestures now only remind the orchestra of what we have learned together. The rest is inspiration, the reciprocal give and take between the orchestra and the audience.".........
She will conduct the Bad Homburg programme without a baton, "because I wish to delegate the synchronisation of sound movement to the orchestra." This is a man's domain and a woman conductor is still an unusual sight for orchestra and public. "Although I do not feel exotic myself as a person, the orchestra puts a sharper focus on a woman on the rostrum that on a man: a woman has to prove that she is at all capable of conducting, a man that he can conduct well."


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