What it takes to be a conductor


Lida Bourhill came to VCUarts to be a conductor—but she never expected to be standing in front of the Richmond Symphony Chorus before she was out of school.

The experience was the fulfillment of a dream she’s had for years: “I want to be the person who turns notes into music.”

Bourhill, a music education major, has spent her life immersed in the musical world. She began playing piano at 5 years old, and her mother enrolled her in a music academy shortly thereafter. By the time she was 13 and learning under the tutelage of a Virginia All-State Chorus conductor, she decided to pursue a career in music.

“Because the other singers were so talented, he was able to bring a different level of conducting,” she says. “I had never seen anyone craft the music that way. It really brought the notes off the page.”

At VCUarts, Bourhill has proven herself to be an exceptional singer, instructor and conductor. Her pedigree earned her the chance to substitute for Erin Freeman, director of choral activities for VCUarts Music, and conduct the Richmond Symphony Chorus in a rehearsal this summer.