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June 22 – July 27, 2024

Alumni Feature: Alyssa Wang, 2018 Conducting

This story was originally published on February 15 in EMF’s Alumni Newsletter. Subscribe to our Alumni Newsletter today to receive stories like this and more alumni news right to your inbox!

Photo credit: Robert Torres

Unless you are plugged into the Boston music scene, you may not be aware that the first live orchestra performance in the city after Covid shutdowns was put on by a festival orchestra, co-founded by an EMF alum, that hadn’t existed before the pandemic.

The Boston Festival Orchestra’s (BFO) premiere performance on July 17, 2021 was a sold out show, marking not only the return of orchestral music to Boston, but also a wildly successful start for the orchestra’s season and a cause for celebration for EMF 2018 conducting alum Alyssa Wang, the BFO’s Artistic Director, conductor and co-founder.

Prior to the orchestra’s founding, Alyssa, who is originally from San Francisco, chose Boston as a place to start a career in music (“the city really appreciates the arts”) just after completing two masters degrees at the New England Conservatory (NEC) for both violin performance and conducting. Violin had been her initial course of study, and the conducting degree she integrated partway through her violin studies.

“I didn’t consider conducting as a career path for a very very long time . . . To suggest that I would end up conducting in my career would be akin to saying, ‘One day you’re going to go to the planet Saturn,’ like that’s not going to happen,” says Alyssa.

Alyssa’s start in conducting had relatively humble origins:

“My violin teacher [in college] suggested I take a beginner conducting class, because it is helpful for [progress as] instrumentalists to learn the basics of conducting. So I took a beginning conducting class and pretty much right away thought, “Wow, that’s interesting, I’m really curious about this and I want to learn more.’”