Warren Symphony conductor breaks down barriers for future women – Macomb Daily
Ever since she was little, Gina Provenzano has loved music and being in the foreground.
Nobody ever told her that by being a conductor, she could combine her two passions.
So she became a music teacher and discovered it along the way.
“It didn’t even occur to me to become a conductor,” said the musical director and conductor of Warren Symphony Orchestra (MSO)who will perform the first concert in a series that will kick off the season at 3 p.m. on November 13 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township.
“There weren’t any at the time that I know of or there were very few,” she said. “It’s very disappointing to never have been encouraged.”
But by following her heart, Provenzano created opportunities that led her to become a conductor.
“When I was a freshman in high school, my group director was away and I was asked if I wanted to fill in,” Provenzano said, which she happily did.
“I don’t remember the music. It was just something we were working on,” she continued. “But I remember being on the podium and thinking, ‘I love this.’ It was fun to tell people to play softer or play louder.
After graduating from high school, which included a summer at Interlochen Arts Academy, Provenzano then attended the University of Michigan where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in both clarinet performance and music education. . As a student, Provenzano had the privilege of studying with notable conductors such as Robert Reynolds, Donald Schleicher and John Mohler. She has also performed with various ensembles and had the honor of participating in the Rose Bowl Parade.
After graduating from university, she became a music teacher in various public and private schools. Her enthusiasm for her work also led her to get involved in other musical projects, including the creation of several youth orchestras which she later led. After she and her husband moved to Maine and became parents to triplet daughters, Provenzano’s career took a step back and when she was ready to return to work, her interests changed.
“I decided I wanted to play the clarinet professionally,” Provenzano said.
To her surprise, she not only passed her audition, but also got the position of principal clarinet of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lucas Richman.
It was there, under Richman’s guidance and encouragement, that she honed her skills as a conductor and eventually became the co-founder and conductor of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Since moving back to Midland, Michigan with her family, she not only operates a private clarinet studio, but has turned her passion into a career and as a bandleader of the WSO and the orchestra of her own Midland community.
Provenzano admits she’s not the most flamboyant bandleader, but she’s very clear in her delivery.
“I’ve had musicians say to me, ‘I can read you very well or I can follow you easily,'” said the WSO conductor, who is now one of the women in her field opening the way for future generations who may wish to pursue a career outside of conducting.
Historically, only one woman has risen to lead a premier ensemble and that was Marin Alsop, whose tenure as Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony ended in August 2021.
Alsop said in an interview that she was surprised the statistics remained “so outrageously stark”.
However, she thinks the current moment might be different.
“I hope we are past the tipping point” she told The New York Times. “That’s the impression it gives. But I’ve been naive in believing that before.
Among those tipping the scales is Provenzana, who has faced stereotypes that make sexist comments about her looks or attire rather than her performance on the catwalk.
“That kind of thing is very frustrating,” said Provenzano, who believes exposure and awareness is a way to bring about change. The WSO is doing its part in this regard with a permanent offer allowing all K-12 students to receive free tickets to any of their concerts. “It’s the same with female composers. I think people just need to be aware that it’s possible.
Discover the WSO
The Warren Symphony Orchestra, now in its 49th season, will perform the first of a three-concert series at 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton Township.
Audiences of all ages are encouraged to attend this patriotic spectacle featuring a collection of compositions by American composers, including “Good King Charles’s Golden Days” composed by Linda Robbins Coleman.
“I have always thought this music would be the most fitting way to celebrate the rise and reign of King Charles III,” Coleman said in a press release. “The Warren Symphony Orchestra is one of the first orchestras to perform my overture following these recent events (death of Queen Elizabeth). Thanks to Gina Provenzano and the WSO for their trust and support for the music of living composers.
A Michigan State Legislative Tribute will also be paid to the late WSO founder and original bandleader Dave Daniels and WSO teacher and bassist Laura Sias.
Being a patriotic tribute, the first concert is offered free of charge to veterans.
Led and directed by Provenzano, who is among the nation’s few female conductors, the WSO has been a cultural force in Southeast Michigan for more than four decades.
Provenza said the orchestra also plays an active role in educating young people and its local community, continuing to cultivate interest in the future by offering free tickets to K-12 students throughout. of the season to encourage appreciation of music.
The tickets are $23 for adults, $20 for seniors, $10 for students, and K-12 are free.
The public can buy tickets for one show or all three performances of the “American Made” series.
These are available at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts box office or by calling 586-286-2222. Veterans interested in receiving a free ticket to the Nov. 13 show can skip the lines and call the box office ahead of time.