Podcast Episode 17: Scott Speck

Photo by Ben Harper

With performances in London, Paris, Moscow. Beijing, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, Scott Speck has inspired international acclaim as a conductor of passion, intelligence, and winning personality.

Scott led four performances for the Chicago Symphony in 2014-15 and was immediately re-engaged for four more concerts the next season, and the next. He was named Artistic Director of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra in June of 2013, and has been Music Director of The Joffrey Ballet since 2010. His concerts with the Moscow RTV Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky Hall garnered unanimous praise. His gala performances with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Midori, Evelyn Glennie, and Olga Kern have highlighted his recent and current seasons as Music Director of the Mobile Symphony. This season he also collaborates intensively with Carnegie Hall for the seventh time as Music Director of West Michigan Symphony. He was invited to the White House as former Music Director of the Washington Ballet.

In past seasons, Scott has conducted at London’s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, New York’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Washington’s Kennedy Center, San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, and the Los Angeles Music Center. He has led numerous performances with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Houston, Baltimore, Paris, Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing, Vancouver, Romania, Slovakia, Buffalo, Columbus (OH), Honolulu, Louisville, New Orleans, Oregon, Rochester, Florida, and Virginia, among many others. Previously he held positions as Conductor of the San Francisco Ballet; Music Advisor and Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony; and Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Opera. During a tour of Asia he was named Principal Guest Conductor of the China Film Philharmonic in Beijing.

In addition, Scott is the co-author of two of the world’s best-selling books on classical music for a popular audience, Classical Music for Dummies and Opera for Dummies. These books have received stellar reviews in both the national and international press and have garnered enthusiastic endorsements from major American orchestras. They have been translated into 20 languages and are available around the world. His third book in the series, Ballet for Dummies, was released to great acclaim as well.

Scott has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Voice of Russia, broadcast throughout the world. He has been featured in TED talks and at the Aspen Ideas Festival. His writing has been featured in numerous magazines and journals.

Born in Boston, Scott graduated summa cum laude from Yale University. There he founded and directed the Berkeley Chamber Orchestra, which continues to perform to this day. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin, where he founded Concerto Grosso Berlin, an orchestra dedicated to the performances of Baroque and Classical music in a historically informed style. He received his Master’s Degree with highest honors from the University of Southern California, served as a Conducting Fellow at the Aspen School of Music, and studied at the Tanglewood Music Center. He is fluent in English, German and French, has a diploma in Italian, speaks Spanish, and has a reading knowledge of Russian.

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice – the first day of winter! It also happens to be my Mom’s birthday. My brother and I think it’s hilarious that she was born on the shortest day of the year, since she’s only 4’11” tall. Happy birthday Mom!

My big brother is a musician/composer and he releases an ambient, contemporary classic EP under the label Pangaea Projekt each winter, aptly name Winter. His newest album releases today! Winter VI includes four, short pieces inspired by the season. All six albums are available wherever you buy your music. I get mine here.

My bro – Michael to the world, but Mike to me – LOVES winter. He lived in Florida for a couple of decades and started writing this music because he missed the snow. And, there is a song on the first EP (Upon a Winter Solstice) that was written for my Mom’s 70th birthday. Most of the cover art are photos taken near, or in one case in the back yard, of where he lives now in Vermont. He gets lots of snow. Here is the track Arctic Snow from the new release.

Artic Night from Winter VI

Personally, I like to listen to the Winter series when I read or just need to chill. I used to play them on my headphones at work on particularly stressful days during a performance run. Block everything out and meet your deadline (ie. don’t kill anyone!). These are great for yoga, stretching, cool down, and meditation. So all you dancers teaching yoga out there…haz at it.

For more information on Pangaea Projekt and other projects Mike has done, go to michaelcrain.com. Shameless plus: Dear choreographers, he’s also available for commissions! 🙂