How Carlos Miguel Prieto (MBA 1992) conducted a post-Katrina comeback for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
EIGHT MONTHS AFTER THE LEVEES BROKE, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra returned to New Orleans to play a concert. They weren’t home yet, though. Their usual venue, the 87-year-old Orpheum Theater downtown, was in ruins, still covered in mud and sludge. The only venue available for the April concert was Tulane University’s Dixon Hall, with a stage that could barely fit all 67 orchestra members.
Location was perhaps the least of the LPO’s challenges that night. Many of the musicians were still living in hotels or sleeping on friends’ couches. The program for the night was ambitious: a five-part, all-Ravel score that required a set change in the middle. The principal horn—who was responsible for a crucial solo—called that morning to say her flight had been canceled, and she wouldn’t be able to make it. And their conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto (MBA 1992), who had been named music director just a week before the flooding began, had led the orchestra only a handful of times as a guest conductor. Now, at 38, he was tasked with rebuilding an orchestra with no home or foreseeable income.
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