Philadelphia Ballet’s The Nutcracker is in full swing! The annual seasonal production offers opportunities for both company dancers and students from the school. It is also a chance for the conductors of the Philadelphia Ballet Orchestra’s Apprenticeship Conductor Program to stand at the podium. Under the direction of Beatrice Jona Affron, apprentices Amelia Krinke and Andrew Samlal, will each lead the orchestra during specific moments in the score.
Amelia Krinke spoke with Phindie about the program and her musical aspirations.
[Academy of Music. 240 S Broad St.] December 8-30, 2023; philadelphiaballet.org
Amelia Krinke: When I was about four years old, I encountered the magic of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet. While the main recollection I have of that experience is
the enormous Christmas tree, I also recall being inspired by the beautiful ways the dancers used
their bodies, and the interaction between their movement and Tchaikovsky’s seminal score. As a
lifelong musician, I certainly had experienced concert music by that age; but this marriage of
artistry had me transfixed. That same wonderment drove me to pursue the apprenticeship
position at Philadelphia Ballet—and propels me in all of my opportunities with the company. My
constant love for music, coupled with my passion for ballet, motivates me to want to contribute to
both artforms directing performances and collaborating with other passionate artists.
DD: What was your first experience conducting for Philadelphia Ballet like?
AK: My first production as an apprentice at the Philadelphia Ballet was Prokofiev’s Cinderella, but
the first time I had the opportunity to conduct the company was in preparation for 2022’s The
Nutcracker. When I was attending dress rehearsals with the dancers and a pianist, I got to hop
down into the pit and experience being responsible for the flow of both the music and the dance.
It was a powerful experience which gave me insight into the job of conducting for ballet.
DD: What did you learn from it?
AK: I learned the breadth and variety of a ballet conductor’s responsibilities. She need not only
conduct and know the music like the back of her hand, but also must be responsible for many
people, including many who do not read music or operate with a different artistic language. This
is truly unique in a field like classical music, where artists can grow used to living in an artistic
bubble, where all colleagues speak the same language—of notes, meter, timbre, orchestration,
DD: What will you be conducting for this season’s Nutcracker?
AK: I will be conducting the overture and the first two numbers from Act 2—the Angels and the Sugar Plum Fairy variation—on December 9, 10, 13, and 24.
DD: What are your professional aspirations at the conclusion of the apprenticeship?
AK: I will complete my bachelor’s degree in viola performance at the Juilliard School. I will then pursue a master’s degree in conducting before—hopefully!—conducting professional ensembles, including interdisciplinary work that I am passionate about, such as ballet!