The Rising Young Conductor Joshua Weilerstein Has a Very Cool Classical Music Podcast

Mar 26, 2019

A transformative experience on tour led a young violinist to embrace a career in classical music and start a classical music podcast. WRTI's Susan Lewis has more on conductor Joshua Weilerstein, now artistic director of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland and the founder of Sticky Notes: A Classical Music Podcast with more than 100 episodes.

Listen to Sticky Notes podcast on Apple iTunes here.

The podcast is in the spirit of Leonard Bernstein.

Conductor Joshua Weilerstein was preparing a concert in Norway when he got the last minute call, asking if he could fill in (and make his debut) at The Philadelphia Orchestra.

"It's a thrill!" he says, when we meet backstage at the Kimmel Center. "I did the concert in Oslo and just grabbed the score of Brahms 3 and started re-learning it again."

On March 31 at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, listen to Joshua Weilerstein conduct The Philadelphia Orchestra in Brahms Symphony No. 3. The program also includes Caroline Shaw's Entr'acte, for String Orchestra, and Ricardo Morales playing Weber's Clarinet Concerto No. 2.

Growing up in a musical family (both parents are musicians and his sister Alisa has a solo cello career), he played violin but wasn't sure he wanted to make music a career, until he had an experience on tour to Panama and Guatemala with Boston's Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

"We played for thousands of kids that had never seen a symphony orchestra before. and the light bulb went on." 

He began conducting in his late teens, won First Prize and Audience Prize at the 2009 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen, and in 2011 was appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

Now, he's leads the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland, guest conducts, and has created Sticky Notes: The Classical Music Podcast

The podcast is in the spirit of Leonard Bernstein.  "I thought, if he was alive, he would be doing something with all of the technology that we have available to us now, and podcasts are such the rage. In commuting and traveling, I spend my life listening to podcasts in airports and on planes." 

Sticky Notes features interviews and stories, and covers subjects from music history to leadership issues to thought pieces such as "Ten things to change about classical concerts." It's all driven by a passion sparked years ago on that tour.

"The podcast is an outgrowth of that experience from, 16 years ago now, realizing if the light bulb goes on, you can create real joy for that person. And also in the interest, the lifelong interest in the music. "