1. Is there an individual or individuals in your life who inspired you to pursue music?

There were several, each for a different reason. It began with my mother – whose career as an opera singer across the nation and the world exposed me to great music very early on. I still go directly to her with questions about the voice! Then I worked with Dr. Stephen Cushman, a professor of musicology while I was in undergrad at Wheaton College. He opened up the real depth of the discipline of careful study. Maestro John Nelson spent time with me explaining how the whole music world operates. Getting to know Leonard Bernstein showed me the pinnacle of what a conductor is and does.

  1. Can you share with us one of your most inspiring musical experiences?

Watching Leonard Bernstein rehearse! Such musical insight and thorough knowledge of the score. And an inspirational conductor.

  1. Why did you accept the offer to become music director of the LFCO?

LFCO has a rich and long history of talented people, in community, making great music together as friends. I am thrilled to become a part of that community of music makers.

  1. Tell us a little bit about the Nordling household, and the new dog!

We live in Hyde Park. Dr. Cherith Fee Nordling is Associate Professor of Theology at Northern Seminary in Lombard. Bowyn, our 8 month old Welsh Terrier, is full professor of mayhem. We have two sons, Zachary and Jackson – all grown up and living in New Jersey and San Francisco, respectively.

  1. Do you have strong interests in other genres besides classical?

Most definitely. I am a huge Tom Waits fan – brilliant song-writer, performer. I love jazz – Oscar Peterson is a favorite… actually here isn’t a musical genre that does not appear on my iPod – Metal, Gregorian chant, traditional Chinese opera, hip-hop, Armenian …

  1. How do we keep classical music relevant in today’s world?

–Play it well; quality sells.

–Make it accessible and ‘de-mystify’ it for people who are new to it; what traditions surrounding the act of live performance can we do without so as to help people actually hear the music.

–Education and informing listeners is also very important; how can we help audiences listen more deeply by giving them some things to listen for?

–Get out of the way of what the composers are trying to say – if we give listeners the thoughts of Mozart, they will be amazed at what he has to tell them.

  1. What would you be if you weren’t a conductor?

A person who wants to be a conductor.

  1. How old were you when you knew conducting was your call?

I started very early on violin. I remember getting very frustrated at not being able to create as much sound, as much color and timbre as I heard in my head. I didn’t know it at age 6, but I probably was looking for an orchestral sound in my head even then.

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

“H is for Hawk” by Helen MacDonald. That and the score for Sibelius Symphony #2….

10. What is your favorite food?

Indian. The hotter the better.