About Cascade Conducting

Cascade Conducting was conceived by Paula Madrigal and Teo Benson in 2017 and is officially a program of  Orquesta Northwest, a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Madrigal, who moved to Seattle from Guadalajara, Mexico in 2014, is artistic director of Orquesta Northwest and conductor of the Ballard Civic Orchestra– a symphony orchestra in Seattle, and an official program of Orquesta Northwest.  Benson is the concertmaster of the Ballard Civic Orchestra, and a violinist in Symphony Tacoma, where maestro Sarah Ioannides is music director.  He is also the executive director of Orquesta Northwest.

Inspired by her conducting and her passion for music, Cascade Conducting was truly formed upon receipt of the knowledge that Ioannides was enthusiastic about the prospect of teaching the masterclass.  Ioannides is considered one of the top conductors in the Pacific Northwest and one of the top 20 female conductors worldwide.

Together, Ioannides, Madrigal, and Benson crafted a unique mission for Cascade Conducting: seeking to find balance between the demands of the business, and the preservation of one’s individual musicianship as a necessity to achieve excellence.  In the words of Ioannides:

I am thrilled to take this opportunity to share with conductors of all levels my experience and to have the chance to help train a new generation of conductors.

I myself worked with and studied at great length with many different teachers, who brought to me very individual approaches to training of a conductor. Some broadened my conducting language and techniques, some helped me understand harmony and phrasing in a new light, some shared great philosophical thought on the leadership role, some prepared me for the daunting tasks of score study and how to prepare sufficiently (if there is such an end point), and others helped open new ways of listening to balance within the orchestra, stylistic interpretation, color variety and depth of dynamics, while from others I learnt how to prepare and lead rehearsals efficiently, transition tempi, or prepare new tempi preciseley, or to breathe with the music, to accompany well or to work with all types of musicians both vocal and instrumental. Again, this list is endless and I am still benefitting in my work from the endless lessons I received.

I wish to share the knowledge that has been passed on to me by great conductors, such as Otto-Werner Mueller, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paavo Järvi, and the Musin school of conducting, George Hurst, Christopher Seaman  & Helmuth Rilling, among others.

However, this course is also designed to help each individual to find their own unique and successful path as a musician and conductor.  For through what is undoubtedly a very challenging business, yet a highly worthwhile and valuable art form, one has to stay true to the music throughout.  Preserving one’s own talent, faith to the music, and performance integrity while navigating a successful path forward is imperative, so that great symphonic music can live on and not only be cherished by generations to come, but be a more relevant and effective platform for peace, expression, and understanding of our world.” 

~ Sarah Ioannides

The first annual Cascade Composer’s Symposium with Symphony Tacoma composer in residence David Ludwig is in collaboration with Symphony Tacoma, and would not be possible without the support of Symphony Tacoma.

The third annual Cascade Conducting Masterclass and first annual Cascade Composer’s Symposium at Pacific Lutheran University will also feature 20 principal members of Symphony Tacoma and marks another of many expected events inspired by the ideas of the founding members of Cascade Conducting.