Playing Matchmaker with the Evnin Rising Stars

Using a Venn diagram may seem like a strange way to plan the Evnin Rising Stars mentoring program, but it’s exactly what Pamela Frank relies on each summer to guide her through the planning process.

As artistic director, its Ms. Frank’s job to select the repertoire, mentors, and students for the annual program, which began as a series of master classes with André Previn in 1992. Over the years, the program’s structure evolved into its current format – six to eight young musicians come to Caramoor each fall for a weeklong residency led by Ms. Frank and two distinguished artists. After spending the week in workshops, reading sessions, and ensemble rehearsals, the emerging artists join their mentors onstage for two concerts in the Music Room.

Once the mentors are in place, Ms. Frank, who became the artistic director in 2009, uses her Venn diagram of intersecting variables to help choose the repertoire and select students. She tries to balance the technical skill of the mentors and students, their stylistic approach, artistic temperament, performance background, emotional disposition, and many other considerations to create an artistically challenging and aesthetically pleasing repertoire.

To accomplish this daunting task, she has created an annual ritual involving Post-it notes with the names of her favorite people and her favorite musical pieces. As she prepares for the season, she rearranges the slips of paper in an elaborate process she describes as “playing Cupid” among a pool of talented students and respected mentors.

“I try to match not only the talents, but also the needs, of the students, and determine who would be stretched and challenged the most by which mentor and which piece they would be best suited to play,” she said. “Of course I also consider the mentors’ desires when I choose the music; I try to make as many people happy as possible.”

Ms. Frank must have paid attention during high-school English, because her Venn diagrams have been producing outstanding results for Caramoor’s Evnin Rising Stars and her matchmaking ability would rival Cupid himself.

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