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What Is The Daily Life Of A Conductor Like ?

 In a word, busy.  As I pointed out in my last post, being a major league conductor in charge of a world class orchestra or opera company is an incredibly tough,demanding and complex job . As well as the expected reharsals and concerts, there are countless decisions to be made, endless meetings with the administrative staff, the members of the board of directors, people who wealthy and influential people who might become sources of financial support, auditions to judge, as well as going out of town to guest conduct elsewhere,since no music director can possibly conduct every performance of a season which lasts from September to June,as well as Summer festivals.

  If you're the music director of an opera company, there are also the numerous singers to deal with,as well as stage directors and designers.  A conductor must constantly be planning his orchestra's future and dealing with administration and financial benefactors . There are decisions to be made about programming. What will you conduct during the season?  How do you co ordinate it all?  Which guest conductors and instrumental soloists will be invited to perform with the orchestra,as well as singers if needed ? 

  Will the orchestra's board of directors and administrative staff approve of what you want to conduct?  Not necessarily. There may be disputes.  How do you balance the programming, satisfying the audience with the beloved masterpieces they want to hear and balancing it with new music, which is absolutely essential or the repertoire will stagnate.  Or what if you want to play an interesting long-neglected work from the past?  You may get flack.

  You have to judge auditions for openings in the orchestra. You must confer with the audition committee. You may want an applicant the committeee does not favor.  How do you avoid ruffling feathers ?  It's not easy.  You also have to deal with the musicians of the orchestra at every rehearsal and performance.  That's also far from easy.  You have to earn their respect,which isn't easy to do.

  Sometimes there are conflicts between a conductor and individual musicians,or disputes among the musicians.  And you constantly have to study scores, often learning ones you haven't conducted before,which is far from easy.  Look at an orchestral score.It may consist of 20 to 30 or more different lines of music for each instrument on one page.The individual musicians have to master their own parts, but the conductor must master the whole score before appearing before the musicians. 

  You have to keep up with the latest musicological reasearch , and have to mark the score with all manner of different indications, bowing for strings, inner lines in the music which can easily be obscured, and much,much more.  You have to have the techinique to master the numerous rhythmical difficulties in the score, and must be able to correct out of tune playing and make sure that everything can be heard clearly. For example,if you are not careful, the brass can easily drown out the rest of the orchestra at times. 

  The conductor must manage both the countless details and oversee the big picture.  This job requires an almost superhuman amount of talent, skill, knowledge and imagination .  Many are called, but few are chosen.


Posted: Oct 07 2010, 06:38 PM by the horn | with no comments
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