Getting to know 2 local orchestral maestros who started working together 15 years ago


(WTNH) — James Sinclair, widely known in the New Haven area and beyond as the founder and musical director of Orchestra New England saw something in Perry So, originally from Hong Kong, was a sophomore at Yale University when Sinclair took him under his wing and helped him grow his extraordinary talent and now So is conducting all over the world.

Their relationship has stayed special over the years because as musicians they have a lot in common and Sinclair says it is a joy to watch his protege work.

“We totally love the same package of conductors, right…there were only certain ones that really mattered to us, oh yes and so it was kind of an exciting first meeting together, oh yeah we know we’re on the same page,” said Sinclair.

“My first experience in front of a full orchestra was when I was 15 or 16 our music teacher had moved to Australia from Hong Kong in the middle of the year and the school needed someone to conduct the orchestra and said why don’t we let this kid try it an it was magical, quite a magical experience because I did not expect other people to do what I wanted them to do, what makes it magical, the magic is in having these ideas about the music and hearing it in your inner ear in a certain way and then somehow through gesture, through a look through maybe explaining something to a group of your fellow musicians hearing that come back to you, pretty much the way you heard it in your head and there’s a kind of recognition, it becomes a conversation musically which builds on them giving them signals and getting back sounds that are going where you want it to go,” said So.

By the way, So is not only a brilliant conductor, but he plays the piano, violin, viola, french horn, so when he leads an orchestra he deeply understands those instruments.

You can see more of Perry So in action this Saturday night at the United Church on the Green in New Haven. He will be conducting Orchestra New England in “A Night of Firsts” which is an Opera.

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