Nicoletta Moss conducting an orchestra

Nicoletta Moss (’20 MM Instrumental Conducting, PBC Music Education) has a love for music and an instinct for leadership that led her to UNC Greensboro’s School of Music to pursue a degree that would combine both:

“As long as I can remember I’ve always felt comfortable being in front of other people. My personality and my teaching style are pretty calm, but I have a lot of energy on the podium, too. I approach conducting as a learning experience for all of us. It’s a really exciting thing to be able to bring together people from different backgrounds, levels, and interests in repertoire to make music, to help unite a group towards performing a piece of work together.”

Since graduating, Moss has worked with musicians of all ages. She teaches private lessons on violin and viola; works in arts administration at the Levine School in Silver Spring, Maryland; and is a cover conductor for the Greensboro Symphony, where she assists with Pops, Masterworks, and educational performances and video production for live audience concerts and broadcasts. In 2021 she was named a finalist in The American Prize competition and made her European debut with the Athens Philharmonia Orchestra. 

Of all of those experiences, it’s the conducting that brings her the most fulfillment:

“It’s pretty amazing when it comes together. You know, I’m not making any sound at all—I’m not part of the group that’s making the art itself—but I love spending hours doing the history on a piece to know what the composer wanted it to sound like. I research what was going on at the time it was composed and what instruments were used so I can share that back with the musicians so they have context to build and bring their experiences to it. It’s invigorating to help an orchestra find ways to relate to a piece so it’s not just about playing notes on a piece of paper. It’s powerful!”

Moss wants that experience to be available to more women. She notes that it wasn’t until 2007 that Marin Alsop was the first woman to lead a major American orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra:

“That’s pretty shocking that it took that long to see a woman in that leadership position. I’m still very early in my career, and when I attend festivals, workshops, and clinics in conducting, it is very apparent that I am one of the few women. It doesn’t help that a lot of the teachers leading these sessions and opportunities are men as well. Being able to have role models in the field is essential and difficult to find.”

Moss points out that men can be great champions for women conductors, too. She considers School of Music Professor Kevin Geraldi to be one of her mentors:

“Dr. Geraldi is not only a wonderful musician, he teaches kindness. I think he and other male teachers can provide mentorship in the way they treat everyone equally. Some of it is just in the language used to describe conducting gestures. It doesn’t have to be all about strength, there’s a time to be gentle or carefree, too.”

Story by Terri W. Relos

Photo provided by Nicoletta Moss


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