“She wants to do this,” writes Graydon Royce writes in Monday’s (10/18) Star-Tribune (Minneapolis). “Sarah Hicks really wants to be the pops conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra. How odd is that? ‘It was surprising to me,’ said music director Osmo Vänskä, explaining that many conductors would look down their nose at such an assignment. … Hicks, 36, represents a paradigm shift in the world of pops programming, which often has been the domain of celebrity musicians who may or may not be deeply invested in the organization. … Hicks recognizes the class structure that Vänskä alluded to in Monday’s news conference. Musicians and conductors are trained on Mozart and Mahler, not Led Zeppelin. ‘That being said, orchestras have had problems where they view pops as a sideshow to the main event,’ Hicks said. ‘I find that closed-minded, as if to say classical music is the pinnacle of Western culture. There is so much else out there, and if we don’t give it its due, we’re doing a disservice.’ If there is a defining facet of Hicks’ tenure as pops conductor, it is likely to be her ability to communicate with audiences both as a speaker and a programmer. … Attractive, friendly, articulate, she speaks eloquently from the podium. Those skills have allowed her to connect with audiences seeking a casual relationship with the orchestra.”

Posted October 21, 2009