Interview by Paul Polycarpou Photography by Juan Pont Lezica
Director, Nashville Symphony Chorus
Artistic Director & Conductor, Intersection
When Kelly Corcoran walked into our offices we all had a collective flashback: Emma Peel in the hit TV series The Avengers. So we asked her if we could recreate Peel’s iconic photograph from the show and to our surprise this musical dynamo agreed. Corcoran, who conducts the Nashville Symphony Chorus, has recently embarked on a new creative endeavor as the Artistic Director and Conductor for Intersection, a contemporary music ensemble.
When and where are you happiest?
I really love putting the programs together for Intersection. Finding
new composers and repertoire.
Which living person do you most admire?
Oprah! I love her. She said, “Stay somewhere as long as you’re
continuing to grow.” I admire that sentiment. She created the life
Do you have a favorite song?
Yes, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
What talent would you really like to
My dad was a cop; my mom was a strong
business woman. I’m not sure how music
entered my life but they taught me that if I
work hard I can do anything I want. Except
maybe figure skating. It might be a bit late
What’s your motto?
I choose happiness. Life will always
be hard, so you can either give in or
choose to be happy.
What characteristic about yourself
do you like?
I see the potential in things, the opportunity.
I don’t get hung up on obstacles.
What was the last good book you
The life-changing magic of tidying up by
Marie Kondo. It speaks about being
surrounded by items that make you joyful.
Are you a neat freak?
No, my house is a series of piles, but I know what’s in each pile.
Who has most inspired you along the way?
Leonard Slatkin. He was my main conducting teacher, a mentor, an
advisor. He had a way of getting to the core of the music.
What’s a treasured possession?
My journal. I have kept a journal since I was fourteen. It would be
hard for me to let that go.
My husband is a writer/musician, and I first came to be with him.
Now, I cherish the many roots I have created here. There is a great
sense of possibility here. A sense that anything could happen at any
How do you feel about the growth going on in the city?
I try to live in the moment, not in the past or the future, but you
have to inform that moment with the perspective of where you
are in that linear trajectory of life. The progress is exciting, but
you have to remember and honor what got you here.
What’s the best part of your work?
Trying to understand the layers of music that go beyond the printed
page. It’s like an investigative process. Every time you approach that
music it’s different.
Who are the really great singers right
In the classical world, I always love Renée
Fleming. I appreciate her technique, and
she’s not afraid to try new things.
What’s it like when you raise the
baton and the music starts?
I recently conducted the Indianapolis
Chamber Orchestra, and I really felt like
every little thing I did, every gesture,
influenced the music in one way or another.
That’s pretty magical.
What has been the highlight in your
career so far?
Conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.
Absolutely. And the two debut Intersection
programs have definitely been a new chapter
in my life.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
Chocolate. Dark chocolate.
What are you really bad at?
Swimming. I can’t swim.
Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Definitely mornings. I thrive in the mornings.
What irritates you the most?
People who live in negativity. “No” and “not going to happen” are not
a part of my vocabulary.
What other profession would you consider?
For the longest time I wanted to be a forensic scientist.
What’s it like being you these days?
Between the Nashville Symphony Chorus, Intersection, The Legend
of Zelda, a touring show I’m working with, and my five-year-old
daughter, my days are pretty full.