Music: Mitty Maestro

Conductor Bergen Who?

It is one of the strangest musical customs in New York City. Three or four times a year, Charlotte Bergen, a wealthy recluse from Bernardsville, N.J., rents Carnegie Hall and conducts a free concert. She hires the American Symphony Orchestra and various soloists, gets out her 2-ft.-long baton and mounts the podium as maestro for the day—paying some $40,000 for the Mittyesque experience. She has no formal training in conducting. Also she is a frail woman of 81 encumbered with a heavy back brace.

But when Bergen stepped slowly out onstage and gave the downbeat for her latest concert, she...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!