Guest conductors

Guest conductors

Community arts patrons will share the stage during annual CSO concert

December 17th, 2011 by Holly Leber in Life Entertainment

Linda Friberg, a longtime patron of the arts in Chattanooga, will take on a new role this weekend: symphony conductor.

Friberg was declared the winner of a fundraising contest for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. She will take the stage at the Tivoli Theatre on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon to conduct Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" at the CSO's annual "Home for the Holidays" concert.

This year marks the first contest to choose a CSO celebrity conductor, as it is being called. Katie Wilson, director of marketing and communications, said the venture is the brainchild of the CSO Guild.

"They put it together, and their volunteer efforts made [it] a success," she said.

Four community leaders -- Friberg, Carolyn Thompson, Jim Catanzaro and Jeff Styles -- all competed through fundraising efforts for the chance to lead the CSO musicians onstage at "Home for the Holidays." Wilson said the four raised a total of $16,000 for the CSO.

Runners-up Thompson, Catanzaro and Styles will be sharing conducting duties on the "Skaters' Waltz!"

To prepare for their time onstage, each has taken lessons with CSO music director emeritus Robert Bernhardt, who will conduct the remainder of the concert.

During the lessons with Bernhardt, Friberg learned how to keep time and tempo and how to breathe properly.

"You never think of a conductor having to think about breathing," she said, "because they're not blowing into an instrument, but he showed me how I have to breathe. It's this body movement. You take this big breath to start them off."

A flautist, Friberg said she is familiar with reading music but is new to conducting. She's been practicing along with the recording of the piece, while looking in the mirror. She confessed to being a bit nervous for her debut.

"I do have butterflies, but I'm excited. I love music, and I know many of the musicians, so we'll have fun."

Friberg sang the praises of the CSO musicians, calling them "just so great."

Though she has learned all the proper gestures and motions to conduct the piece, Friberg said she still hopes to add her own personal flair to her time on the podium.

"I'll keep the beat steady and hopefully get the right tempo," she said, "but I'd like to add my own embellishment."