|Can music making be like this? Well.....|
But this is the story of working with musicians of all ills, as I have "taught" musicians ranging in age from middle school through the professional ranks. Yes, leading a fine symphony orchestra or wind ensemble is truly a rush (think the Quad City Wind Ensemble at the IBA conference), but a different but equal kind of excitement is often generated in that moment when young players finally "get it." Other "get it" moments with younger players included the time when one of my school bands insisted on performing a march by Gustav Holst (from the E-flat) at contest instead of the much simpler selection I put forward. Of course, the ensemble earned its first Division I rating in the history of the school. OR, the time when the middle school orchestra members, when asked which--of all the pieces studied that year--they wanted to play on a recruited. Their choice? A unanimous Bach Brandenburg.
Professional musicians are a different kettle of fish altogether. Of course, the collective wisdom of an
|The West Bohemian Symphony, summer concert|
in the Maxim Gorky Colonnade
I try to "be myself" when I'm on the podium, leaving my "baggage" at the door, come to rehearsal with a plan, and hopefully make the best music that I can. But, as usual, I digress and need to offer a story of the professional music.
|A happy Ray Still--|
so good to see!
Therein lies a major difference in the true professional musician. When s/he sits down at a rehearsal or concert, there is a job to be done and all personality clashes are put behind. All are attempting (hopefully) to act as a large and mostly unified instruments, something that is quite difficult in an ensemble of virtuosi. Hopefully, there is a skilled (in every sense of the word) leader at the podium, capable of herding these cats while sustaining few injuries of his/her own.
* * * * * * * * * *
A conductor newly appointed to lead this kind of ensemble (much different than my "own" Tri-State Wind Symphony, which I founded) inherits a group which may or may not meet his/her musical expectations. S/he inherits their "way of doing things" and all of the various personalities involved in those processes. He/she may inherit players who feel such a strong sense of ownership that the organization has actually become stuck in their ways and unable to think outside the box. OR, as I have experienced more than once, s/he often encounters personalities that are increasingly detrimental to the good of the organization. But the new conductor, like a guest in someone's home, has to herd these cats--often gingerly--in the musical and personal direction that s/he feels is most appropriate for all.
I have had to rewrite ensemble personnel/attendance policies to address only one or two people who could not adequately commit to simply being there and these resulted in more problems than they solved. In the past, have been accused of singling out a certain section for my "wrath" when in fact the major problem was that the section in question was responsible for at least 75% of the errors in the entire ensemble, and caused primarily by the fact that the entire section was only present the day of the performance. While yes, I'll admit that I can have a sarcastic wit, one would think that a group of "professionals" would be used to that by now, as long as the job got done; there's nothing wrong with a bit of levity in rehearsal or performance.
|All shapes....all sizes....|
What is most frustrating--and this happens in both the amateur and professional worlds--are those individuals who decide to sidestep the "chain of command" and take concerns over the head of the music director, assuming that the organization is set up that way. People can be passive-aggressive and I simply have little time for that. Among my pet peeves are people in authority who are ill suited for their positions as well as those musicians who are not nearly as good as they think they are, but act in a condescending manner toward their peers.
BUT AGAIN, the conductor of such ensembles has to work with all of these personality types, because--while the people are an important part of the process (obviously)--nothing is more paramount than the service of the music. One often has to herd the cats very gently to bring about the results that one desires, but again, when that happens, it is truly magic. It's hard work, sometimes frustrating work, but well worth the effort when one experiences true excellence (especially in rehearsal).
The process of rehearsing pros and ams? That must be stuff for another post.
|Beautiful night...big crowd|
Doesn't get any better than that....