Portrait of the artist
'Classical music is pretty hip right now - young people have much more eclectic taste'
'It's still unusual to see a woman conducting an orchestra.'
Interview by Natalie Hanman
Tuesday 28 November 2006 00.03 GMT
What got you started?
The first piece of music I remember feeling moved by was a string sextet in B flat major by Brahms. I was about 11.
Who or what have you sacrificed for your art?
Not being able to be at home that much, because I travel six months of the year. One has to make compromises in terms of personal life.
Is your work fashionable?
It can be. Classical music goes from being seen as elitist and stuffy to being hip and happening. It's pretty hip right now - there are a lot of exciting things happening in terms of digital music.
Is the internet good for art?
Fantastic, especially for classical music. Young people today are "echo boomers" rather than baby boomers. They have a much more eclectic taste in art, and that translates into classical music being part of their menu.
If someone saw one of your performances in 1,000 years' time, what would it tell them about the year 2006?
It's still unusual to see a woman conducting an orchestra. I hope in 1,000 years it won't seem that unusual - and hopefully it won't take that long.
Vinyl or MP3?
MP3, although I seem unable to get rid of my vinyl.
Classical or contemporary?
It's 50/50 for me. I love to look at the masterpieces juxtaposed with contemporary art, because one informs the other.
What one song would work as the soundtrack to your life?
My Way by Frank Sinatra.
Witness for the Prosecution, with Charles Laughton. It's an old-style thriller with great acting and intrigue.
The Rodin museum in Paris. I love sculpture and three-dimensional art.
What's the greatest threat to art today?
The greatest threat to the world today, and this translates to art, is fanatical monotheism. And maybe that also translates into extreme conservatism.
What work of art would you most like to own?
My favourite painter is Kandinsky, but I couldn't pick from among his work. The way he uses colour is so inspiring.
Complete this sentence: At heart I'm just a frustrated ...
Carpenter and cook.
What do you know that no one else does?
That the only person who can really affect who I am and what I achieve is myself. You can choose to be your own best friend or your own worst enemy - that was a hard lesson to learn for me.
In the film of your life, who plays you?
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A cross between Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank.
Leonard Bernstein said to me, in essence: "Don't try to be anyone else except yourself."
Born: New York City, 1956.
Lives: Denver, Colorado.
Career: Became principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 2002. Recently appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphony, starting in 2007.
High point: "At the Tanglewood Music Center, in Massachusetts, when I conducted a concert with Leonard Bernstein."
Low point: "Getting started. You can't even practice - you have to have 40 people come round to your apartment."
001 Portrait of the artist / Will Alsop / 'I've learned never to trust anyone with big feet and a small head'