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#387204 - 01/27/08 07:51 PM Conducting?  
Joined: Aug 2005
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Reaper978 Offline
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Hey,

I've been listening to more orchestral works recently and trying to make sense of the enormous amount of information flying by in the full orchestral score.

How exactly are conductors taught? Certainly they do not have orchestras sitting around waiting for novice conductors to take the helm of Beethoven symphonies.

How much control do conductors really have over the orchestra? I would think that intricate nuances like slight accents with different notes on different instruments and other such things would be easily lost.

Can someone please enlighten?

-Colin

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#387205 - 01/27/08 08:29 PM Re: Conducting?  
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Morodiene Offline
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It is my understanding that they study the score, then they conduct to a recording for practice.

The conductor is the one who decides what should be done musically, so I would say that's a lot of control. They also unify everyone so that the same thing is being expressed by all instruments.


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#387206 - 01/27/08 08:40 PM Re: Conducting?  
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pianojerome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
It is my understanding that they study the score, then they conduct to a recording for practice.

The conductor is the one who decides what should be done musically, so I would say that's a lot of control. They also unify everyone so that the same thing is being expressed by all instruments.
I'd think that the concert master would have a lot of control, particularly when it's a guest conductor involved.

Also, they don't necessarily get a lot of rehearsal time before the performances. There's only so much you can do, interpretation-wise, during a few hours.


Sam
#387207 - 01/27/08 10:18 PM Re: Conducting?  
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keystring Offline
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Quote
Also, they don't necessarily get a lot of rehearsal time before the performances. There's only so much you can do, interpretation-wise, during a few hours.
Surely orchestras do not only rehearse a few hours before the concert. At the least, a few weeks before?

About the first question: there is conductor education for conductors. I attended a performance conducted by a student conductor who was being graded in the wings by his professor. This was his graduate performance.

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#387208 - 01/27/08 10:26 PM Re: Conducting?  
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computerpro3 Offline
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You would be surprised. Here at CCM we just did a performance of Beethoven's 4th concerto - one of my friends was the soloist. They only rehearsed three times and for 30min each time.

He got to do exactly one run through before the performance.

Not only that, but it was a student conductor as well.

Ridiculous if you ask me, but that's how it works. Unfortunately, it showed during the performance. I'm almost hoping I don't win the concerto competition next year so I don't have to play with a student conductor with only one run through.

#387209 - 01/27/08 10:37 PM Re: Conducting?  
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pianojerome Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
Quote
Also, they don't necessarily get a lot of rehearsal time before the performances. There's only so much you can do, interpretation-wise, during a few hours.
Surely orchestras do not only rehearse a few hours before the concert. At the least, a few weeks before?
Don't count on it.

Laura Jackson, the assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony, told us in a guest lecture that they have rehearsal Tuesday-Thursday, and then perform Friday-Sunday. Sometimes less than that -- she said that sometimes the first performance is really a rehearsal.


Sam
#387210 - 01/27/08 11:05 PM Re: Conducting?  
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tomasino Offline
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Minneapolis, Minnesota
Here's a conductor's forum:

http://www.conductor.org/

We might be able to lurk around and pick up some information about Reaper's questions.

Tomasino


"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

#387211 - 01/27/08 11:07 PM Re: Conducting?  
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keystring Offline
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Canada
I must say I'm not too experienced. We have the NAC and OSO over here and they sound like they rehearse. I saw one performance (elsewhere) conducted by a student conductor with his professor in the wings grading him, and this was akin to his "thesis" or juries for graduating. It was superb. The student musicians first rehearsed in sectionals, then together under the conductor, and I wondered whether the same thing would happen in professional orchestras.

#387212 - 01/27/08 11:52 PM Re: Conducting?  
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Iowa City, IA
Most professional orchestras rehearse the week of the concert. Often Monday-Friday, then concerts Friday and Saturday night.

Conductors are often trained by working with pianists. The transcriptions of the Beethoven symphonies for 2 pianos is often used. (This is only possible at larger and better schools that have pianists who can sightread at that level.)

Also, conductors do a great deal outside of rehearsal. They will work with the concertmaster and other members of the orchestra on interpretation before rehearsals begin. (Bowings and other details will show up in the parts...) They are also responsible for being the public face of the orchestra and negotiating the season's repertoire and guest artists.

Today, most conductors have basically three jobs: conducting/rehearsing, planning the season, and fund-raising and PR. It's not uncommon to find conductors working with a city's political and business leaders on trying to make the symphony a positive and valued force in the community.


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#387213 - 01/28/08 01:29 AM Re: Conducting?  
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keystring Offline
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Thank you for the explanation.

#387214 - 01/28/08 02:15 AM Re: Conducting?  
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Our municipal band rehearses the morning of the concert. Sometimes they perform pieces they have not rehearsed. There is rarely a complete play-through.

There was a good article about the life of musicians in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. You can read it here.


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#387215 - 01/29/08 04:29 PM Re: Conducting?  
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Monica K. Offline

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Lexington, Kentucky
That was a very interesting article, BDB; thanks for posting it. I was particularly struck by this sentence:

"In a good year, a musician working steadily might earn $40,000, and that's with no benefits; musicians either cover their own health insurance or do without."

The article was talking about musicians who pieced together part-time jobs at smaller orchestras. Presumably if you're lucky enough to get a full-time position you'd earn more... but gee whiz, I though *I* was underpaid. eek

Here in Lexington, the long-time conductor of our orchestra is retiring at the end of the year. So this year we've been bringing in the finalists for a trial performance. It's been an interesting experience so far.


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#387216 - 01/29/08 06:23 PM Re: Conducting?  
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Loki Offline
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Texas
Quote
Originally posted by pianojerome:
Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
[b]
Quote
Also, they don't necessarily get a lot of rehearsal time before the performances. There's only so much you can do, interpretation-wise, during a few hours.
Surely orchestras do not only rehearse a few hours before the concert. At the least, a few weeks before?
Don't count on it.

Laura Jackson, the assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony, told us in a guest lecture that they have rehearsal Tuesday-Thursday, and then perform Friday-Sunday. Sometimes less than that -- she said that sometimes the first performance is really a rehearsal. [/b]
Well, at that level, I think that many of the orchestra members will have experience with most of the repertoire that is played.


Houston, Texas
#387217 - 01/29/08 09:22 PM Re: Conducting?  
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epf Offline
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Central Texas
I took conducting in college years and years ago (it was so long ago that only had a percussion section composed of big rocks and little rocks). The bulk of our work was studying scores and "conducting" sections of recordings under the steely gaze of the instructor. I was only minoring in music, and this class was the only one available to me at the time I needed for the credits I needed to finish my minor. I never actually conducted a live orchestra in class.

Ed


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