The video of the performance became an online sensation. but it turns out that directing in disguise carries some occupational hazards.
“what really happened the first night is that everything was foggy and I couldn’t see my score. Also, the hands I had on were plastic, so I couldn’t turn the pages,” Dragon says.
Her solution was to memorize the sheet music for future performances in case the costumes failed.
dragon was just 25 years old when he became associate conductor of the colorado symphony, making him the youngest associate in the orchestra’s history. he is now in his fourth season.
dragon grew up in perth, australia and saw the denver job ad online. She said the audition for the job in Colorado was not only a long way from home, it was intense. Of the more than 200 applicants, 10 were chosen to audition during a grueling three-day process.
“It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” he said. “Usually these things happen in a day, but this process was pretty intense. At the end of each day, I would basically get a phone call around 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM, so each day would go down I think it was 10 people, then six people, and then three,” he said.
his strategy for winning the job? show up just in time.
“They told us we had to be like 20 minutes early, or 30 minutes early, but they put all the drivers in the same room. So I wasn’t too interested in getting excited by all the other drivers, so I I was a little naughty and got there just before the podium every time, so I skipped the whole waiting room thing, so that was one of my tricks,” said the dragon.
dragon did not study conducting in australia because there was no conducting track there, so he specialized in clarinet. So how did a clarinetist from a faraway music school get a job conducting with a prestigious US symphony? Dragon said it could be due in large part to his “learning on the job” experience as a conductor in Australia.
“I basically conducted everything from brass bands to marching bands,” he said. “I had two community orchestras, youth orchestras… I did a lot of practical conducting.”
dragon added that there’s a lot about directing you can learn from a book. time on the podium in front of the musicians is key to learning.
“so for me, having that exposure to so many different outfits on such a regular basis, was the best kind of training I could ever get.”
Being able to conduct almost anything is a requirement for any Colorado Symphony conductor. the symphony’s strategy to fill the hall has the orchestra playing a movie soundtrack one night and benjamin britten’s war requiem a few nights later. versatility is key for musicians and conductors, and dragon loves variety.
“I don’t want to be pigeonholed doing pop concerts, classical music or movies,” he says. “I love doing it all. And I want to keep running it all.”
dragon leads the colorado symphony this week in two sold-out shows of tim burton’s “the nightmare before christmas” and two nights of “rocky horror show” singing together.