A young conductor tells veteran player what’s wrong with orchestrasComment Of The Day
Reader’s Comment of the Day (to original post here):
Of all your comments on this website I ever saw, this one is the first one that isn’t purely insulting, and I agree for the most parts with you. Since you are an orchestral player (and from what you tell us, it might be with a certain Radio Symphony?), I can understand your frustration but would also like to point out your opportunity. The truth is, most of these 24 young conductors (I met almost all of them) aren’t selfie-taking, self-image-obsessed at all. Some are sweaty, as is Noseda. Some are jumping, as are many that aren’t too old. Same for energy-driven.
The real problem is the ignorance, and since I went through the typical conductor’s education I can see how this manifests itself. Every conservatory or university tries to teach to a young person something about conducting within 3-5 years, depending on which degree a school can offer. Most students are beginning to conduct there, because only in very few countries there are possibilities to study conducting before college level. Everybody has a different background, some are pianists, some are orchestral players, some are composers. Now 3 or 5 years is incredibly little before going into professional life. I would assume you played the violin longer than that before you won your audition.
After these conductors finish school, they are stressed because they aren’t yet ready and have to take any opportunity to keep learning. Assisting someone, doing a family concert here and there. If they don’t get management, they are out of the game soon. And if they get far in a competition, they might get some gig somewhere, or a manager. It’s just a small hope to be allowed to develop further.
Now the problem when we are taking the first steps in the professional world is – hardly any orchestra player will walk up to us and give us honest and constructive feedback. Only the ones that like us will talk to us, all the rest just disappears, maybe doesn’t even greet us in the hallway.
A lot of us aren’t quite sure if the things we say or do are done the best way possible. As long as it sounds better we have to be ok with what we did, knowing that it might be totally unrelated to the words or gestures we used. Sometimes the orchestra just gets better by playing it twice, or the concertmaster takes over.
So my personal wish to you is: When you have an unexperienced conductor in front of you, take the opportunity to tell them in the break if something is technically impossible or unclear. And more importantly, tell them which words to use instead! If they stay in the game, orchestras all over the world will suffer for decades from those problems, but you personally can help solve them! Maybe someone won’t be able to change immediately, but if you use good words, they stay with us and we think about them for a long time. If I ever have the chance to conduct your orchestra, I am waiting for your feedback and I’ll be honored when I get it!
And if I guessed your orchestra right, why don’t we go for coffee some time… 😉