Deanna Tham made her Oregon Symphony debut on Sept. 3, at the Waterfront Concert and Festival in downtown Portland. Tham, who won her associate conductor position over 200 other talented musicians from around the world, brings a passion for education, accessibility and community to the oldest symphony in the Western United States.
She’s also a hardcore rock climber.
“There are a lot of similarities between rock climbing and making music,” says Tham, “especially in conducting.” Tham says she believes she achieves “flow state,” generally considered a period of deep immersive focus which allows unfiltered creative thinking, in both worlds.
In rock climbing, Tham says, this state comes from “getting flow through your movements.” And, in conducting, from “trying not to overly control what these souls are trying to create with you.”
Tham is also quick to point out how her sport helps her art. “The type of people who are conductors, who are musicians — we have a huge fear of failure. Rock climbing helps with that. We practice taking falls a lot because it happens, especially if you’re gonna succeed.”