Joana Mallwitz's ascent to the role of Chief Conductor at the Konzerthaus in Berlin has created quite a buzz in the classical music world. Her face has graced billboards across the city, heralding her as "the next big thing." Previously a relatively unknown figure in Berlin's musical landscape, Mallwitz now finds herself unable to do everyday tasks like grocery shopping without being recognized.
What sets Mallwitz apart is not only her youth but also her gender. At just 37 years old, she is the youngest music director to lead a major Berlin orchestra, a city known for its rich classical music scene with seven large orchestras and three opera houses.
Her appointment also marks a historic moment as the first woman to hold the top position in a leading Berlin orchestra. Mallwitz, however, downplays the significance of her gender in her role, emphasizing that when she stands in front of an orchestra, her primary concern is whether the music works or not.
She acknowledges the importance of continuing discussions about gender diversity in the field but hopes for a future where such questions become irrelevant. Comparisons between Mallwitz and Lydia Tár, a character played by Cate Blanchett in a film, have been circulating.
Mallwitz dismisses these comparisons as superficial, attributing them to their similar hairstyles. She expresses curiosity about the film but has had little time to explore it due to her whirlwind schedule.
Praise for Mallwitz's Musical Dedication
Colleagues and musicians who have worked with Mallwitz commend her humility and dedication to the music.
Her conducting style has been described as "high voltage," and her interpretations of classical pieces have been praised for their freshness and emotional depth. Mallwitz is not oblivious to the changing landscape of classical music.
She believes that simply taking the stage and conducting is no longer enough to attract audiences. She has introduced the "Expeditionskonzert" format, a sell-out event where she and the musicians take the audience on a journey through a musical piece before a concert.
Her goal is to introduce classical music to those who may not yet realize their passion for it. Reflecting on her own transformative experience with Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" at the age of 16, Mallwitz is determined to share her passion for classical music with a wider audience.
She believes that great music, like Stravinsky's masterpiece, retains its power and can captivate new generations. In a classical music scene often associated with venerable maestros, Mallwitz represents a new generation of conductors who are approachable, innovative, and dedicated to expanding the reach of classical music.
Her journey as the Chief Conductor of the Konzerthaus promises to be an exciting chapter in Berlin's rich musical history.