How a principal cello keeps her idle conductor occupied

Lots of people have been asking what conductors are doing these days and how one keeps them sane.

Louisa Tuck, principal cello of the Oslo Philharmonic, has found a use for hers.

She plays seven parts of the opening of Rossini’s William Tell overture, while Klaus Mäkelä waves his arms, remotely.

So considerate of her.


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  • Mr. Lebrech and fellow bloggers:

    Eschewing the inanities that this headline generated, let me say that I do discharge some responsibilities as a “professional” conductor, if I may be allowed to use the term. Since I believe I was long ago able to disenthrall myself from watching and loving my countenance on the podium, I am happy to report that idleness has not been an issue for this writer. In fact, I have been able to distribute my time more efficiently and equitably while pursuing other interests and duties within the realm of music, including practicing and maintaining a musical instrument. (I once sat in orchestras, performing such useful tasks as counting, listening and watching.)

    Sir Colin Davis wisely reflected that conductors “are paid to think.” That is precisely what made me react to the suspicions expressed by other bloggers. Their wariness -I freely admit- is amply justified, as history has shown. But I can assuage your worries: some conductors are right now thinking systematically about their craft. They are peering into issues of context, semantics, aesthetics. They contemplate the essentials tenets of their craft and consider things like “How can I do this better? What does this music mean? How can I contribute to make my ensemble grow?”

    As the island of Puerto Rico enters its third week of an unprecedented state-sanctioned quarantine, my instrumentalist colleagues and me have been plenty busy, not forgetting for an instant that there are others facing terrible circumstances. (Our hearts go out to them.)

    It is more than likely that we would not return to our Casals Symphony Hall and at least salvage concerts which would have included Orff’s Carmina Burana and Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. (Yes, there is an audience for Bruckner on this island.) But we have not given up on our responsibilities as citizens and artists, knowing of the particular affinity of our brethren for music and the need they now for music as source of comfort and inspiration.

    Conductors work. A lot. Because of that it gets lonely out there. If you are honest, you don’t play yourself as a victim of your career choices to attract undue attention; you get things done. And why? Because music, when properly done, will humble every day. (Not my quote.)

    Salud a todos y un fuerte abrazo desde Puerto Rico, la Isla del Encanto.

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