Conductor Amanda Quist Takes Her First Turn at the Podium at Carnegie Hall

Amanda Quist debuts at Carnegie Hall. Photo by: Addiel Photography
By Maritza Cosano

Amanda Quist debuts at Carnegie Hall. Photo by: Addiel Photography

Conductor Amanda Quist Takes Her First Turn at the Podium at Carnegie Hall

By Maritza Cosano
Frost School of Music's Director of Choral Studies, Amanda Quist, is making her grand conductor debut at New York City's Carnegie Hall on March 20th. This is part of The Octavo Series, a festival chorus performance featuring choirs from Miami, San Francisco, Maryland, and Long Island, New York.

"It's hard to say exactly when the first time I stood in front of a choir and actually conducted was," says Amanda Quist. The conductor and director of Frost Chorale at the Frost School of Music recalls being about 19 years old when she conducted her first piece called Mata del Anima Sola by Antonio Estévez. "I do remember that it felt magical."

Looking back, she feels lucky to have found wonderful mentors and a supportive community during her years as a student and teacher that have led her to her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Last year, Quist was approached by Manhattan Concert Productions to serve as the guest conductor for the Octavo Series, a festival chorus performance taking place on March 20th. The festival allows for various pieces designed to create a beautiful mosaic of choral gems and feature choirs from Miami, San Francisco, Maryland, and Long Island, New York.

While she is debuting at Carnegie Hall's podium as a conductor, Quist has prepared choirs to perform at this legendary hall before, which has lent its platform to bring the transformative power of music to the broadest possible audience.   

Those choirs include:

  • Philadelphia Symphonic Choir with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conductor, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir with the Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle conductor, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" 

In 2004, as a high school teacher, Quist also brought her high school program to Carnegie Hall from Michigan to perform with Manhattan Concert Productions. So, this upcoming performance is a full-circle moment for her. 

For her conducting debut, she selected the following repertoire:

Non Nobis, Domine, by Rosephanye Powell. With its rhythmically driving ostinato, it is well set for the voice and has been a favorite with all levels of choirs. 

Coronation Mass, W.A. Mozart. One of the repertoire standards, the choir will perform the Gloria movement, which involves a charming solo quartet with beautifully balanced Mozartean lines. It gives one the sense that the audience is transported back to Vienna in a different time of musical elegance. 

Even When He Is Silent, Kim André Arnesen. This piece was written with a lyric believed to be found on the wall of a concentration camp; some think it was penned by a child. "I believe in the sun, even when it's not shining. I believe in love, even when I feel it not. I believe in God, even when He is silent." The Frost Chorale toured with this piece in France and England last summer. 

Great God Almighty, Stacey V. Gibbs. This is one of Quist's favorite arrangements of a traditional spiritual/work song. Stacey is a fellow Michigander, and he has a gift for retaining the original melody and intent behind the spiritual text while adding harmony and rhythmic ideas to enhance the story's communication. 

Wildflowers. This piece is very special to Quist. She discovered it while listening to The Wailin' Jenny's album. Tom Petty wrote the original song, and The Wailin' Jenny's created their arrangement of it. She gained the rights to arrange it through Sheet Music Plus and blended it with one of her all-time favorite old-American songs, Hard Times Come Again No More (Stephen Foster). She got a friend who is a professional mandolin and fiddle player to play for the demo recording from which parts were created, and she's thrilled to present this piece (co-written with her husband, Frost alum Tim Brent) in Carnegie Hall. They have dedicated the piece to their son, Alex. 

We Remember Them, Susan LaBarr. A beautiful and timely setting, a culmination of the above musical and textual ideas, this piece ties it all together. Susan and her husband, Cameron LaBarr, met Quist while she was a doctoral student at the University of North Texas, and she has always been a fan of LaBarr's choral writing. LaBarr also serves as the editor of Walton Music, the publisher of one of Quist's Choral Series. 

"I feel truly honored to have this chance to conduct at Carnegie Hall. I had the opportunity to hear Beethoven there last April after having prepared the chorus, and I was absolutely amazed at the acoustical power of the hall," said Quist. "There really is nothing like it. And to think of some of the people who have performed on that stage is truly humbling. After preparing several choirs to perform there, I am excited to take a turn at the podium."