Viswa Subbaraman

Opera and Orchestra Conductor

Filtering by Tag: mike Votta

Building a TEDx Talk (Part 2)

I've always admired leaders who inspire and allow the people around them to do their jobs without micromanaging. I think it allows for people to do their best work. No leader wants to be a tyrant or a dictator.

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Inauguration Weekend (Part 2)

Wow. What a day! Yesterday was the Indiaspora Inaugural Ball. I met my friend Bill Morris in the afternoon for lunch. I hadn't seen him in years. It was nice catching up with a wonderful musician. I headed back to Mike Votta's with the distinct goal of taking a nap. It didn't happen, so I threw my tux on. (And successfully tied my white bow tie all on my own. I haven't been wearing bow ties much. Even when I conduct I tend to wear a longer tie.) I then walked to the metro in my tux. (My skinny tux!) I can't quite explain how many weird looks I got from people because I was wearing a tux on the metro. DC doesn't seem to have the same tolerance for the bizarre as NYC.

As I got off the metro at L'Enfant Plaza, I realized I was turned around and had no clue exactly which direction I was aimed. Who knew the compass and map app in combo would be so useful? I walked over to the Mandarin Oriental where I was going to meet Peggy DeAnda for a drink before the Ball. It's not often one gets to meet friends from Big Spring in DC. I then took my ticket and walked in.

Little did I know what to expect! It was amazing! They had a red carpet with an Indiaspora background. There were photographers and reporters. I was behind Congressman Ami Bera. I think there was a bit of a let down as I walked down the red carpet. The reporters weren't sure who I was. I'm a bit curious what the photo of me on the red carpet looks like. (Especially since I could take up the whole frame since I wasn't sharing my moment in the limelight with a date or anything - perhaps something to work on in the future?)

As I walked in, I spotted MR Rangaswami and went up to say hello. He introduced me to a few people as an opera conductor, which usually sparks some need for explanation as to how an Indian kid ended up in orchestra and opera. After feeling like I was talking about myself too much, I asked the gentleman what he did. He replied, "I'm actually a congressman." (My inner monologue at that moment was "D'oh!"). So I had a nice conversation with Congressman Honda from Silicon Valley. I then turned around and was introduced to Dr. Ami Bera. Congressman Bera! That was pretty neat. He has a great sense of humor.

The night seemed to be one amazing person after the next. Many great Indiaspora friends. I could spend the next 2 pages naming them all, but I have come to really treasure the opportunity to spend time with them and hear their amazing stories. There are so many people doing some great work.

I then turned around and was introduced to Ambassador Nirupama Rao, the ambassador from India! When she heard I was an opera conductor she said, "my favorite opera is *****." My jaw dropped! What were the odds that ***** was the very opera we were contemplating opening the Skylight season with? (I'm forced to edit because the season hasn't been announced, and we really like suspense. We do create drama after all). So then I told her who we had directing, and she said, "***** is such an interesting choice! It sounds like I should come see this production." Here is hoping Milwaukee hosts the Ambassador from India on September 20th. Madame Ambassador, you have an open invitation. (As an aside, it was very cool that she retweeted the picture of us from the ball! Then I saw on her twitter feeds that she had a picture with Zubin Mehta and a picture with me!!! Talk about feeling very cool for 30 seconds…. Now if only I was invited to conduct in Berlin and Vienna. Hint hint).

Later that night I ran into Maneet Chauhan from the Chopped series on the Food network. She asked me how the food was and I realized I hadn't had time to eat. She smiled and walked me back to the kitchen, and we talked for about 30 minutes over some amazing Indian food. A quick plug - Maneet has a new cookbook coming out! you should all look forward to buying it! I asked her about Red Rooster in NYC. (Marcus Samuelsson's restaurant). It looks like I might be going there with Maneet sometime this week. Talk about ridiculous! Going to an amazing chef's restaurant with another amazing chef!

I honestly can't say what the night was like. I was blown away by meeting so many incredible people. The credit has to go to MR Rangaswami. The work he put in to create an event like this is truly monumental. I think Indiaspora is going to blossom into an important place for the exchange of great ideas. I feel honored and humbled to be part of the family!

Inauguration Weekend (Part 1)

So an interesting trip is beginning. (I know it seems as though I just got home from one). I'm in DC now, and I'll be in NYC for a week starting on Sunday. I was invited to Indiaspora's Inaugural Ball. As I've talked about in the past, Indiaspora is an organization that I think is becoming extremely interesting. When I attended the summit, I honestly did not think it would blossom like this. Partly because a good number of us from Indiaspora are keeping in touch, and the founder, MR Rangaswami, has done a lot to keep everyone involved. The inaugural ball is tonight, and I'm excited I fit in my skinny tux for it. Thank you Crossfit. I arrived on Thursday, however, and have spent the past two days with my very first conducting teacher Mike Votta. When I was at Duke, I was premed like all good Indian kids, but I kept realizing that the place I was happiest was in the music building. It was during the Wind Symphony's residence in Vienna when I decided (over mediocre Mexican food) while talking to Mike that maybe I should jump in the music (conducting) pool.

I don't think he quite knew what he was getting into. It was during that trip that I saw my first professional orchestra concert - the Vienna Philharmonic - in the Musikverein. Claudio Abbado conducted. It's been downhill ever since. I really knew very little about music. (Mike has many an embarrassing story about that, and I'm praying he keeps them quiet. Though the number of people he's already told…)

It has been good catching up. I'm so happy that he's at a program where he really enjoys his life. It's also interesting to be able to talk about music and conducting on a different plane. No matter how old I get, I always learn when I talk to Mike. Tonight is the inaugural ball. Next week I get to see Maestro Masur after a number of years. Reunions abound.