Culture Vulture: Rising Star in Lenox, MA

By Helen Epstein

The extraordinary Alexander Prior in action on the podium

The promising Alexander Prior on the podium

The Tanglewood Music Center (TMC) is an incubator for many of the musicians we’ll be hearing in the future, and its conducting seminar is one of the most visible and prestigious in the world. Conducting fellows lead concerts in Ozawa Hall that are a showcase not only for their contemporaries but for their teachers and an audience that can determine their professional futures.

Conducting is one of the “impossible professions,” difficult to define or teach. Many fabled conductors lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and TMC orchestras every summer at Tanglewood, each with his or her own aura, technique, body language, and proclivity for lecturing on existential meaning or staying close to the details of the musical score. Every once in a while, a student conductor appears who not only galvanizes the orchestra but the audience—whether in the hall or out on the lawn.

Last Sunday the indisputable star of a very good concert was improbably young Alexander Prior (born in October 1992), who studied conducting and composition at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory and has been a finalist in several international conducting competitions.

He elicited an extraordinarily authoritative and vivid rendition of Prokofieff’s Romeo and Juliet from the attentive and accomplished TMC musicians that had the audience sitting at the edge of their seats.

His photogenic good looks are no liability to an international career. Administrative skills and a flair for fundraising? Possibly. Like all these savvy young artists, Prior has an extensive website, complete with trailer and discography. Take a look and listen.


Helen Epstein reported about the conducting seminar at Tanglewood in the 1980s, when the late Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, and Seiji Ozawa were teaching. You can read about them in her collection Music Talks. Order the book though the Amazon link below and The Arts Fuse receives a (small) percentage of the order.

Recent Posts