Star music student Anna Binneweg turns passion into career | SierraSun.com

Star music student Anna Binneweg turns passion into career

Special to the Sun
Photo courtesy Alyona VogelmannAnna Binneweg's passion for and success in music was nurtured during her years at North Tahoe High School.
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TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; With a passion for music that began with the encouragement of band teachers Dean Nordby and Geoff Igarashi at North Tahoe High School, Anna Binneweg pursued her musical interests through high school, college and into a professional career.

A 1993 graduate of North Tahoe, Binnewegand#8217;s roots in Tahoe City extend several generations. Her motherand#8217;s family, the Gianninis, moved to the region from the Bay Area in the 1950s, making Tahoe their permanent home. A product of TTUSD, she attended local schools from grades kindergarten through 12th grade. After high school, the budding musician enrolled in the music program at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), went on to earn a double masterand#8217;s in conducting and music education from Southern Methodist University, and then a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University.

Proving her talent as a gifted conductor, Binneweg made her conducting debut at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra in the 2005 National Conducting Institute and currently serves as one of their cover conductors. She has worked with numerous distinguished conductors through various engagements sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra League, the Conductors Guild, the Conductors Institute of New York and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

Her ties to music education did not end with her doctoral studies. Now the music director and conductor of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra in Annapolis, Md., she also serves on the full-time music faculty as associate professor of music at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) where she directs the AACC Symphony Orchestra, also in Annapolis.

and#8220;The (Londontowne Symphony) Orchestra is composed of professional and accomplished amateur and student musicians under the leadership of Music Director/Conductor Dr. Anna Binneweg. Dr. Binnewegand#8217;s creative and appealing programming combined with her exceptional musicianship has helped the orchestra to attain higher levels of performance and has attracted new and talented musicians to the orchestra,and#8221; according to a recent report from Eye on Annapolis.

Binneweg is married to Igor Leschishin, a musician originally from Ukraine who came to the U.S. to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He is currently the principal oboist of the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and serves on the faculty at The Catholic University of America. The couple has a 12-month-old daughter named Sophia.

Binneweg took a moment recently to get back to her roots and answer some questions about growing up in Tahoe City.

Describe your path to your professional life.

I was interested in music and the study of musical instruments at an early age, and was extremely fortunate to have grown up in a community where the school music program was greatly admired and supported. The music program at NTHS was exceptional and prepared me for entrance as a music-major at the university level upon high school graduation. At that point, I knew that I would pursue music as my long-term profession. I did not specifically choose a career in orchestral conducting however, until I completed my undergraduate degree at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.

What are some activities/hobbies in your life?

I am fortunate to say that my profession is also my hobby and#8212; I love what I do, and do what I love. Studying orchestra scores, preparing for an opera rehearsal, conducting symphony concerts, sitting on audition committees, teaching courses or private conducting lessons at the college level, etc. is a way of life for me. It is what I eat, breathe and sleep every day! However, when I do happen to stumble upon some free time, I enjoy world travel, learning about the Russian culture (which is deeply rooted in the classical music tradition), skiing, socializing and sipping good champagne.

How did your high school experience and education prepare you for your professional life?

Aside from my regular classroom studies as a high school student, I had the opportunity to learn about discipline from an early age. Sports and music were at the core of my life throughout middle and high school, and I thrived on it. It was the daily approach to growth, development and bettering yourself as an individual (in an athletic or art form) that proved well for me as an undergraduate student, graduate student and ultimately, a professional.

Was there a particular teacher or individual who provided inspiration?

Though I am fond of several specific memories at NTHS, I was fortunate to have had a team of leaders who inspired me tremendously. In the area of athletics, I was a devoted member of the Nordic ski team where I had the opportunity to learn from Dave Curry who I will always admire, in addition to Warren Mills with the cross country running team. They were both coaches who set high standards, and expected all members of the team to meet them and#8212; and we did. But of course, the future of my career may never have transpired had I not studied with Geoff Igarashi and Dean Nordby of the NTHS music department. Preparing for performances, tours, festivals, competitions, not to mention international travel, was only just the beginning for me.

and#8212; Provided by Switchback PR + Marketing on behalf of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District