Joshua Weilerstein is a regular guest conductor with the Oslo Philharmonic. Last week he conducted a program including Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The seven deadly sins, which was also recorded for future release.
In March, Weilerstein added an extra dimension to his musical career by launching his own podcast, "Sticky Notes: The Classical Music Podcast" on Itunes.
"It’s been a really fun project", says Joshua Weilerstein. He's amazed by the response so far:
"People always say nobody’s interested in classical music. It’s clearly not true. It's already been downloaded more than 10.000 times in 61 countries, including Morocco, India and China. When I first released it I thought if I get 200 downloads then it will be a success."
Inspired by Leonard Bernstein
Weilerstein's vision for Sticky Notes was fuelled by his own love for the podcast format.
"I’m a big podcast listener, 'cause I travel so much and it’s the best way to survive airports: constantly having headphones in your ear, listening to This American Life, shows like that. And I couldn't find any real podcast dedicated to classical music."
He also drew inspiration from Leonard Bernstein's young people’s concerts and advocacy for music:
"I don’t claim to have anything near the knowledge or abilities that Bernstein had of communication, but I thought: If Leonard Bernstein was alive today, what would he be doing? I think he would have a podcast."
Weilerstein tries to balance the podcast content to appeal both to beginners in the field and more experienced listeners.
"It’s hard to find the balance, but I would like it to be something a beginner wouldn’t be scared off by, so I keep the terminology very basic. Musicians might be interested in the interviews, musician to musician. So it’s really for everybody. My main goal is to make people that are interested in classical music but don’t know anything about it, feel that they have a place to go where they can understand things. And then go off and listen to other things."
Spends hours battling with technology
Joshua Weilerstein prefers to produce the podcast himself, and found that to be the most challenging part of podcasting so far:
"It’s been a lot of hours of battling with Garage Band, the software I use for creating the podcast. I recently finished a podcast, and when I went back to it, half of the clips were gone. I have no idea why, they just disappeared. It's also difficult finding the time to write. But the whole process gets easier each time."
He also enjoys talking to the audience when performing in the concert hall, which he also did in the Oslo concert last week:
"It’s a great way to bring people in, and I don't just talk about the contemporary pieces. I recently talked with
a member of the marketing team of the New York Philharmonic, and he said that in every one of their concerts, 20% of the audience is there for the first time. So I’m not doing
these speeches or talks for people who know the music very well, I’m doing it
for the people who have never heard it before. It is incredibly helpful just to give them a moment of insight about
whatever they are about to hear."