The principal conductor of Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra has walked out and is refusing to return unless one of her ‘disrespectful’ musicians is removed.


I don’t know the story. I don’t know the conductor, the musicians or the orchestra. I do know other things though.

  • I know musicians can be horribly disrespectful.
  • I know conductors can be horribly disrespectful.
  • I know musicians can play poorly because of disrespect.
  • I know conductors can conduct poorly (usually because of lack of talent, but not always).

(I know more than that, too. But I’ll stop here.)

It’s a tricky thing, playing for a conductor when one has little or no respect for her. But it does have to be done. I have a few rules for myself when it comes to this. Most of the time I manage to keep them.

  • The conductor is the boss.
  • Obey the boss
  • Don’t talk back

Now inside I might be seething, but I have to play my best no matter who is on the podium. I have to show respect in that I don’t argue. If I do think something is so wrong I struggle horribly doing what he/she asks, I approach that carefully, attempting not to look as if I’m mocking the conductor (so many have such fragile egos, even while they are so egotistical … I guess you have to be quite egotistical to stand in front of a large group and boss ’em around, eh?).

I try not to say too many negative things about a bad conductor, but I will confess that my colleagues and I do sometimes moan and groan. A lot. Sometimes it’s just necessary to keep our sanity! Really.

So while I don’t know the whole story with Natalia Luis-Bassa and the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra, I do know there are many possibilities to this story. The sad thing is seeing it make the news. We all try to keep things like this very private. No one needs to know the orchestra inside scoop.

But hey … little thought here! … these days people love to air dirty laundry. Other people like to gather ’round to see and hear it. Maybe orchestras should publicly air all of this. Maybe it’ll draw in the crowds, eh? Hmmm. Or maybe not.

I did a little search for the conductor and came up with some videos … (hmmm … an issue with Mr. Oboe there at the beginning?):

In the next video you can see the conductor better as she conducts the “Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra” … hmmm. Anyone else see a problem calling it that? I’ve seen that orchestra before on YouTube, and it appeared to be full of, well, youths. But this?


  1. In my view, sitting in the orchestra, my job is to represent the composer’s intentions as best I can. An inspiring conductor makes this the best job on earth.

    Then there’s the others. An ignorant or untalented or indifferent conductor makes the job harder, but if he’s a decent human being, it isn’t the end of the world. Work with your colleagues to play the part the way WE know how it should be done.

    The unfriendly, angry conductor can make life can make life miserable if you allow it, so don’t! Look everywhere but the podium, work as above to make music the best it can and be grateful for the paycheck.

    My allegiance is not to the conductor unless he earns it. Rather it is primarily to the composer and to our little community, the orchestra. Here, if we do poorly we undermine our colleagues. Not a great plan for success…

  2. Yeah, I know my way isn’t everyone’s way, Bob. It’s actually part of my faith-based way of living. I’ve been instructed to obey authority (unless the authority opposes God). So I try to.

    Of course I OFTEN fail … sigh …!

    But for people who don’t believe what I believe, your last paragraph is a good one to stick to, right?

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