“I think life is important. Work is not everything, but I really love what I’m doing. It’s been very busy for the past 10 or 15 years, and I love every minute of it,” Susanna Malkki said.

The New York Times

Zachary Woolfe

A few months ago, during the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performance of Unsuk Chin’s 2007 opera “Alice in Wonderland,” Susanna Malkki did something you hope a conductor never does while the music is still going: She left the podium.

It was only her calmness as she walked offstage, while the orchestra played the final part of the first act, that gave it away that this was no emergency, but rather another cute touch in Netia Jones’s antic staging of Ms. Chin’s surreal opera.

Ms. Malkki, 46, has generally been striding toward orchestras in recent years, not away from them. Having made debuts with both the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras already this season, on Thursday she conducts the New York Philharmonic for the first time, in a program that includes Jonathan Harvey’s tidal tone poem “Tranquil Abiding” (1998), Brahms’s “Variations on a Theme by Haydn” and his galvanic Piano Concerto No. 1, with Kirill Gerstein as a late replacement for an injured Jonathan Biss.

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