09. April 2006 · Comments Off on Only 30 Seconds, Eh? · Categories: imported, Ramble

THIRTY seconds. That’s how long it takes Richard Runnels, Orchestra Victoria’s principal horn player, to recognise a great opera conductor.

Hmmm. And to think we give horn players at least five minutes to prove themselves at auditions. Maybe we could run the auditions at a speedier pace?

This quote is from an article about conductors. Some of the article I agree with. Some I think is a bit odd.

And then there’s this:

Martin believes conductors should be neither seen nor heard. “It just seems silly to go to all this trouble with staging an opera and have somebody standing in front waving their arms around like some mad dervish,” he says. “There are all these conductors who would like to be noticed, but opera should be bigger than anyone in it.”

Um. So is he saying we don’t need conductors for opera? If so, he sort of contradicts himself because earlier he states:

“Apart from a clear beat, it’s a good idea to have cues at pertinent moments like when people are making mistakes,” he says.

I’m confused!

What do I think? I think a conductor is quite important and I think conductors can make faces and I’ll live, but I appreciate it when a conductor holds back for the most part. (I am astounded, though, when a conductor holds back after a huge, and usually stupid, error by one of the performers. But, of course, we all have to be good actors when we are in performance!) I like a conductor that gives some feedback in a positive way; some only deal with the negatives and we wonder if we are okay at anything we do. We need positive feedback. But we also need correction and direction.

A recent experience I had reminded me of how sensitive we all can be about correction. We often take a comment as a harsh criticism when it’s not intended that way at all. I’m especially good at that, as most of my friends know. Heck, someone will say, “Great solo!” and what I hear is, “Whew, you finally played something well after all these years!”

Yeah. It’s an illness. I know. But there you go.

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