"There was a columnist who wrote a story about his father giving him a BB gun to shoot sparrows, those little brown birds. And the first day he had the gun, he saw this bright yellow bird, and he took aim, and he killed it. His father said to him: 'Why did you do that?'
"That piece was about me. It was about the reaction that one has when one wants to take away the thing that's different. And I think at first, I was different enough."
Though there are more female conductors now, she said, "you superimpose that on first ladies and you'll find that in the history of time, there will not have been a first lady who was a conductor. Doctors, lawyers, schoolteachers, librarians -- extraordinary women all. But conductors?"
Worby still seems to cultivate her difference from the formal image of the orchestra leader. Photos on her website, which she says she included on the advice of friends and colleagues, show her wearing a solemn black pantsuit but barefoot -- in motion, arms outstretched and long hair flying.