Opposite of pop

Andrew Koehler has immersed himself in classical music since he picked up the violin at age five. Now, 20 years later, the Northwestern graduate student has crossed over from one side of the orchestra pit to the other — besides earning a master of music degree in Orchestral Conducting, he has been chosen to conduct four concerts of the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra. During his third week of rehearsal for the first of four concerts, Koehler talked with PLAY about his upcoming performance as well as preferring silence to Britney Spears.

PLAY: How did you land conducting the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra?

AK: There was a call for applicants in the area and I got wind of it from my teacher, who is the contact with the head professor of performance studies at the University of Chicago. There was a round of video applicants and then they finally invited a smaller number of applicants to audition in person with the actual orchestra — there were four chosen and out of that number they pick who they want to conduct, and they picked me.

PLAY: When is the performance?

AK: Saturday, Nov. 20 at the University of Chicago in Fulton Recital Hall (1010 East 59th St). Tickets are free.

PLAY: Is this a pretty exciting experience for a conducting student?

AK: Yes, it’s a really neat opportunity because it is hard for student conductors to get the chance to work with an orchestra from the beginning of a rehearsal stage all the way to the concert. It’s great that I can start from sight reading with the orchestra and over a period of several weeks work my way up to a concert with the same group.

PLAY: What’s the hardest part about being a conducting student?

AK: For us to really get the chance to practice — we can’t just go into a practice room and get a violin. With our craft our instrument involves the time of lots of other people because we get one chance to practice with the orchestra. So these chances come few and far in between.

PLAY: What kind of pieces will be performed at the concert?

AK: The program I chose for this concert is theatrically inspired from the play “Pell