S2E8: Navigating the Business with Kevin Fitzgerald

Today’s episode is the second half of my conversation with a long-time friend, Kevin Fitzgerald, current Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony.


Last week we spoke about preparing for job applications and auditions, and today we will continue the conversation and hear all the behind the scene stories of navigating the business.


As 2021 Tanglewood Music Center Conducting Fellow and four-time recipient of Career Assistance Grants from The Solti Foundation U.S., Kevin Fitzgerald is at the forefront of the next generation of conductors. Recently, Kevin was invited as one of the twenty conductors to participate live in the 2023 Mahler Competition with the Bamberg Symphony.


In addition to his post as Associate Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony, Fitzgerald has recently guest conducted the Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony and the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. In his commitment to uplifting communities through music, Fitzgerald conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in 2017 with musicians from the Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids Symphonies to raise over $10,000 for the International Rescue Committee and Freedom House Detroit. In 2016, he also co-organized and conducted an impromptu performance called “Requiem for Orlando,” which featured over 400 volunteer musicians in a dedicated performance for victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.


Since then, he has participated in masterclasses with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, Andris Nelsons and Alan Gilbert at Tanglewood among many others. Kevin is based in Raleigh, NC, with his husband, violist Kurt Tseng, and their two dogs Bennie and Chipper. Kevin also teaches and coaches conductors privately online and in person.


1:08 Don’t Forget….

It’s really important to remember who you were before you wanted to be a conductor. Because it’s the people who you resonated with, who you got along with, who you wanted to spend time with, who will introduce you to people who might be able to help you with your career. 

14:03 Building Relationships

A great way to get someone on the phone and to talk with people is to just ask for advice, “Hey, I have some career questions I love to run by you, or I would love to just catch up and pick your brain for 25 minutes.” or “I would love to take you out to lunch or out to coffee.” People usually don’t say no to that.

But again, start with the people you know. There are there’s an infinite amount of people in the world that you can get to know and you could you could send a million emails a day and still have people to email the next day. So instead of constantly reaching out, see who you already have near you.

17:03 Networks of People

If you’re sitting there listening to this thinking, I don’t know anyone, I have no network — I want you to get a big sheet of white paper, and just start brainstorming.

Write down the people on the outsides, that you want to get to know, that you think you should know, who you are interested in getting to know.

And then start in the middle with you. I bet, if you write enough names down, you will see that you can get pretty close with a bubble graph of getting people connected.

The point is not to show you who you should email and to call and to be weird, it’s to actually show you that you’re not as disconnected from this world as you might think. Right? This world is a lot smaller than you think.


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