Change is Music to Zervoulis' Ears
By Erin Keane ScottMedia Inquiries
Meg Zervoulis remembers her mother taking her to see "The Lion King" on Broadway when she was small and seeing a woman conducting the pit orchestra. She had been studying piano since she was 5, and recalls that early childhood experience as the turning point for her desire to use her skills on Broadway.
As a kid in New Jersey, she spent a lot of time working at the renowned regional theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, and then came to study piano and conducting at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Music with Ralph Zitterbart, Sergey Schepkin, and Robert Page. Under their tutelage, and with connections made at Paper Mill, Zervoulis began to make her way as a music director.
"When I came home from CMU, I returned to work [at Paper Mill], which helped me connect to the New York scene and, over time, get linked to various guardian angels, which led me here," said Zervoulis, who earned her degree in 2006.
Zervoulis is the conductor and music director of this season's hit musical, "The Prom," which she has referred to as a "pinch me" moment.
A music director's role is to work closely with the creative team, collaborate on the hiring of orchestra members, rehearse vocals with performers, and to conduct the orchestra during performances. The field is largely dominated by men, but Zervoulis is seeing that change. Mary Mitchell Campbell, Meg's mentor, is the music supervisor on "The Prom."
"There's often this sense of stupor that comes over audience members. It's still a little bit new-fangled to see a woman leading an orchestra," Zervoulis said. She is often approached by people in the front row with "wow, a woman conductor!'"
Meg credits her ability to lead a rehearsal room and her deep appreciation and love of music to her time at Carnegie Mellon studying under Page, and acting as an apprentice at the School of Drama.
"I learned mandatory skills for being a good music director and the appreciation and love of music that came through Dr. Page has really stayed with me," Zervoulis said. "At the very core of it all is the love of music."