BOB EDWARDS, host: Voters in California today decide who will be governor of the most populous state in the nation. There may be a shift in power from a Democrat to a Republican; maybe not. This month, NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg explores the idea of power--what it is, how it's used and what happens when it's gone. Today, her first conversation taps into power and music.
SUSAN STAMBERG reporting:
When a newspaper reports a bracing front from the Atlantic has roared into our southern shores, you might be inclined to think hurricane--Isabel, Juan--but the Times of …show more content…
And of course, it was just knowing that Leonard Bernstein was about to conduct your orchestra, your orchestra was already about 50 percent better immediately, before he even entered the room. Do you know what I mean? Because there was this heightened excitement and heightened focus from everyone in the orchestra. He was turned on to music, excited, unwilling to compromise, not himself personally, but unwilling to compromise on behalf of the composer, and willing to push everybody to do not only their best, but to do beyond their best.
And because he was that and had this relationship, he almost became unimportant. This is hard to describe, but I think when someone has achieved the perfect power, one is almost--can step out of it. The orchestra then moves up to take the challenge and to push themselves, and the greatest power one can have is to enable people to be better than they are.
STAMBERG: Let us talk about the power of the music itself. Describe for us, if you can, what it is like to conduct enormous musical moments, say something in a Mahler symphony.
Ms. ALSOP: Yeah. I'm just closing my eyes, trying to be in that space. I've never been surfing, but I've seen some of those films that are so beautiful, you know, where the people, especially in Hawaii--where the waves are larger than buildings, I imagine it's the feeling of working hard, you know, but always knowing where you're headed, and feeling the power of this water take you, and when you