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What does a conductor do?


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Author Topic: What does a conductor do?  (Read 287 times)
Neil McGowan
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« on: December 27, 2011, 05:21:10 pm »

A rather well-considered article in New York Magazine - which gets to the nub of things, and avoids the expected glitzy trivia.
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t-p
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2012, 12:54:31 pm »

There was Slatkin on Music Matter discussing orchestras and Art organizations in America.
Detroit orchestra had to cut prices for tickets and cut musicians salaries.
They are doing well.
Some other organizations are not doing well.
Detroit is doing a lot of educational programs.

Slatkin said - not to lose crises to make changes until it is not too late.

It was good to hear positive message from him.

The most troublesome was a question he asked- do we need so many orchestras? Now there are records available. Maybe we don't need orchestras all year around.
I think it is time for smaller companies, musical groups.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0195pg3
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t-p
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2012, 07:00:47 pm »

There is orchestras with no conductor.

This ensemble was presented on Music Matters.


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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 10:11:48 am »

There is orchestras with no conductor.


Probably Schubert can be played that way - it was written in the era when the Leader would supervise the performance.

I wouldn't like to hear Wagner performed without a conductor Sad
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autoharp
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 07:55:20 pm »

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was not the brainchild of the conductor Neville Marriner (although he was a founder-member) as many seem to think, but of three LSO principal string players - Norman Nelson, Simon Streatfeild and Ian Hampton, who wanted to play baroque music in a conductorless ensemble. The original idea seems not to have lasted too long.
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t-p
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 10:23:39 pm »

I always think that orchestra with no conductor is like a car with no driver. It is like some machine that keeps going , but has no vision.
Leader of Spira Mirabilis (www.spiramirabilis.com) said that they discuss their conception and everyone can contribute their opinion (the only rule is that they have to stand up when making their point).

Thanks everyone.  Smiley
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 09:54:58 am »

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields was not the brainchild of the conductor Neville Marriner (although he was a founder-member) as many seem to think, but of three LSO principal string players - Norman Nelson, Simon Streatfeild and Ian Hampton, who wanted to play baroque music in a conductorless ensemble. The original idea seems not to have lasted too long.

Thanks, Autoharp - I didn't know that about the ASMF. The idea probably had some validity when proposed, but grew up among a group of players raised in an entirely different performing style. Even now, nearly half a century later there are only a handful of baroque bands who can play convincingly under the joint direction of leader & harpsichordist.  

It's worth remembering that even at the time there was no concensus on the correct way to play differing kinds of music.  There's a famous Handel anecdote told about his time in Venice.  After the success of his opera during the Carnival, Handel had been asked to compose some chamber music for a concert at the house of some wealthy nobleman. The second half of the concert was to be given by Corelli himself. Handel was anxious not to clash with the great violinist, so he wrote his first-half music entirely in the French style, so that there would be no open 'contest' with Corelli. However, rehearsals went badly - the Venetian performers had never played French music, and didn't know how to interpret it.  They couldn't play inegales and their bowing was antithetical to the French manner of playing. Handel - never a tolerant soul at the best of times - finally grew impatient, and begged the leader the use of his violin for a second.  He played over the opening of the movement as he intended it in the French style, with the bowing he'd intended.  (note - nothing in Handel's orchestral parts indicated the bowing needed - ie it was something the performers were supposed to 'know' and add for themselves).

Worried that he'd offended the leader, Handel asked the violinist if he intended to stay to listen to the great Corelli rehearse.  "Yes, I do. For I am Corelli. Corelli - it is I." replied the leader tersely.

So if Corelli got French music 'wrong' - what chance have we got, 250 years later? Wink

It's an interesting phenomenon that baroque bands these days are increasingly not only getting conductors to lead their performances - but are calling in big-name conductors such as Elder, Rattle, and Jurowsky.  I wonder if this is to secure more 'interesting' interpretations... or more predicated on filling-up the back seats for full price?
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