This month marks Sarasota Orchestra music director Anu Tali’s final turn conducting the orchestra’s musicians before stepping down to pursue her career internationally. (Fittingly, the Masterworks concerts she leads April 5, 6 and 7 feature Schoenberg’s Peace on Earth and Beethoven’s Ninth “Ode to Joy” Symphony.) The Estonian-born Tali joined the orchestra in 2013 and has welcomed guest artists from around the world during her tenure, conducting the American premiere of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Strata along the way.
What is your proudest accomplishment here?
“That I managed to get everybody to want and work for the same thing. One has to win people on your side in order to change things. We were able to achieve so much together thanks to agreeing on things.”
What’s your fondest memory?
“I have many. My first arrival is something that I’ll carry as long as I live, because the experience with the orchestra, staff and audience was so special. And the way the orchestra has had my back at the times I needed it.”
How did your time here change you as a person or a conductor?
“Hard to say, because we’ll not know how I would have been different had I not ended up here. I hope I have grown and become wiser. Traveling and living among people, being responsible for their artistic future, teaches a lot.”
What do you think is the biggest strength of the Sarasota Orchestra?
“Willingness to grow, change, take risks in order to communicate music. The musicians are fearless and fun people.”
Where would you like to see the orchestra go?
“The great potential is the next big step—our own concert hall. The absence of a space for concerts and rehearsals but also for educational projects, a stage for a big symphony orchestra and for a larger audience is something that has been holding us back for far too long.”
What plans do you have for your own future career?
“I will be guest conducting worldwide and visiting the orchestras I have made great relationships with. My next step is going to grow from here, naturally, without forcing it.”
Any advice for whoever follows you in this position?
“I’m sure the orchestra will choose wisely and I’m sure the next music director will grow together with this wonderful group of people. It will be different, as it should be, but another exciting era. My heart and thoughts will be with them on this journey.”
The orchestra’s 2019-2020 season, beginning in November, will feature nine guest conductors, some of whom will be in contention for the position of music director. Among them: Gerard Schwarz, JoAnn Falletta, Steven Sloane, Ludovic Morlot, Bramwell Tovey, Keith Lockhart, Teddy Abrams, Marcelo Lehninger and David Danzmayr.