People say it takes 30 years to learn conducting. It takes 10 years to learn the repertoire, and another 10 to learn technique. The last 10 are spent bringing it all together.

Norman Huynh, 27, is just beginning his journey. This week, he starts his third season as assistant conductor and community liaison for the Portland Symphony Orchestra, continuing a career path that he hopes will lead to a post at one of the world’s major orchestras. Someday. Until then, he’s humbling himself at the feet of classical music gods, burying himself in the music and learning all he can about Beethoven, Strauss and Stravinsky.

He conducts the orchestra’s Discovery Series of family concerts, youth and education concerts and most of the pops concerts. But he prepares for all the classical concerts as if he were at the podium instead of Music Director Robert Moody.

It’s all part of the learning process.

“I must prepare this music in such a deep and profound way,” he said. “I have to understand the composer’s intentions and know what the composer was feeling when he wrote it. To whom was it dedicated? What was going on in his life at that time? It’s the conductor’s job to present the intentions of the composer.”

To prepare him for the next step in his career, Huynh spent most of August with Kurt Masur, music director emeritus of the New York Philharmonic, in the cradle of classical music.

Huynh traveled to Leipzig, Germany, to study with Masur at the Mendelssohn Academy. He was among three students selected for the program, and the only American. Leipzig was home to Bach, the birthplace of Wagner and where Felix Mendelssohn established Germany’s first music academy. The experience was invaluable, because it gave him direct contact with the music. “Being in the country where the majority of the classical repertoire comes from, you see where the composers lived and have a better understanding of how to present their music,” he said.

Huynh represents the youthful face of classical music in Maine. He arranges before- and after-concert parties at local nightclubs targeting young professionals, works with students and teachers in Portland schools and conducts the orchestra’s popular Discovery Series of concerts, which are geared to families.

This past spring, the Yale University School of Music recognized Huynh and Portland Public Schools music teacher Alyson Ciechomski for their partnership, inviting them to attend a national symposium at Yale on music education. Huynh works with music teachers to use music as a teaching tool across the curriculum.

“I see him truly as a community liaison,” Ciechomski said. “That word ‘community,’ from my angle as a music teacher, he is the epitome of that. That connection is so important for a group like the Portland Symphony, which wants all ages to love music.”

Huyhn shatters the perception that conductors are unapproachable, she said. “Sometimes I think of conductors as all-knowing beings, so superior. But he is open to furthering his knowledge and his techniques. He’s a good listener. He’s inquisitive. He knows he has more to learn, and knows how to ask questions and reach out.”

Moody has announced he will leave Portland in the spring of 2018, when his contract expires. Huynh could be Moody’s replacement. That’s an intriguing prospect, Huynh said, but it’s too soon to speculate.

“It’s an option for me, but I’m focusing on what I have to do better for the position I am in now and how I can best serve Portland and Maine right now,” he said.

Huynh graduated in 2010 from the University of Alabama, where he performed in the marching band. The next year, he began studying orchestral conducting at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where he received his master’s. He has conducted orchestras in Baltimore, Toledo and Charlotte, and served as assistant conductor for Opera Carolina and Lyric Opera of Baltimore.

He and his wife live in town. He is married to Rachel Hester-Huynh, consumer marketing manager for MaineToday Media.

As community liaison, part of his job is bolstering the orchestra’s presence among people in their 20s and 30s. He launched the orchestra’s Symphony & Spirits parties at Portland nightclubs before or after concerts. For $20, you get a ticket to the concert and a drink designed around a concert theme. The next one is the season-opening concert Oct. 11 at Merrill Auditorium. The program continues the orchestra’s three-year focus on the Beethoven symphony cycle – it will perform all the composer’s symphonies over three seasons – and the specialty drink will be a German beer at Novare Res in the Old Port.

Huynh is comfortable talking about the orchestra to anyone willing to listen, especially people his age. He draws energy from talking to people about music, in any context – with elite conductors in Germany or over a German beer in a Portland bar. He sees himself as an ambassador for classical music, building bridges to new audiences with bricks laid by the masters.

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