4,200 Miles in 24 Hours: Conductor Puts Our Excuses for Absence to Shame

Jun 6, 2017

I couldn't find my keys. The car wouldn't start. Traffic was backed up for miles. I had to work late.

If you or someone you know has used one or all of those excuses for being late or missing an event, conductor James Judd says, not good enough.

How about, "I was in Bratislava?"

Apparently, not even that one passes.

Judd's conducting takes him all over the world, making it very difficult to be as involved in the day-to-day events of his daughter's life as he would have liked. In an interview with writer Edmund Newton for ozy.com, Judd recalled one particularly difficult moment.

“I remember once when Carissa was 6, I was about to go off on a hugely long trip, maybe seven or eight weeks,” Judd says. “Carissa looked at me and asked, in all innocence, nothing accusatory: ‘What’s more important, Daddy? Me or work?’ That stabbed me.”

With his daughter's college graduation in New Haven, Connecticut, approaching, he resolved to be there, no matter what. It would require crossing six time zones and an ocean — not to mention flawless timing — to make it happen, but Judd was determined.

You can read the full account of the conductor's nearly 24-hour odyssey here.

Judd speaks briefly about introducing children to classical music below.