Norwalk Symphony or American Idol? You Help Pick the Conductor
In the final round of three interviews for conductor of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, the board of directors and selection committee will let them conduct the symphony Monday and judge their presence before a crowd, who will fill out forms to give their

It will be a bit like the “American Idol” TV program at Norwalk Concert Hall on Monday night as the audience hears and then votes on each of three candidates for conductor and gives its opinions in forms that will be handed in to symphony officials by the end of the night.

The results will be tallied and will be a part of the decision on which one to hire, said Emil Albanese, president of the board of governors.


(Yes, there really is a missing word in the top paragraph. At least when I did the cut & paste.)

I understand wanting community involvement, and of course there’s nothing wrong with letting them think they have a say, just to get them to feel even more connection to their community’s orchestra, but really … do you think a general audience should have a voice in choosing a conductor?

Me? I think I should get to sit in on interviews for the auto mechanics who work on my car. Um. Right. And maybe doctors, too. Heck, I drive a car. And I go to the doctor. I think I know who would be best for the jobs!

Okay, okay, I’ll stop being snarky. There are tons of good and bad conductors out there and I’m sure a lot of people can tell the good from the bad. Most of the time.


  1. Robert E. Harris

    When the Kansas City Symphony was looking for a music director about 8 years ago, the retiring music director was pregnant and was advised to not conduct one series. Michael Stern was not on the list of possibles, but he was hired to sub for those three concerts.

    I was in the men’s restroom at the intermission of the Sunday performance, and one old timer said enthusiastically, to pretty general agreement, that Stern was the one we needed. Stern was invited to apply, if he had not already, and he was one of a series of very good candidate music directors who conducted the next season. As it turned out he was hired and has been, I feel, a great success.

  2. I feel uncharacteristically liberal saying this, but is there anything about a bd of directors that pushes it closer to infallibility than an audience? Is it a bd heavy on music expertise, or just on $ to donate? Audiences may be swayed by frivolous factors – but so may bds.

  3. Oh absolutely, David! I would hope that a number of factors go into choosing a conductor, including musicians’ input and research. Choosing a conductor after seeing one conduct for 45 minutes seems a bit of a risk to me.

    Of course the last time an orchestra I was in chose a conductor many musicians insisted on a particular candidate (of 10 that we auditioned) and boy did we make a horrendous choice. I think a conductor should at least have two concert sets as an audition; one chosen by the applicant and one chosen by the orchestra.