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Haydn’s Farewell

January 6, 2014

Classical music “videos” (films, television broadcasts, etc.) have long been a playground for directors wishing to test their latest “arty” shots and technique.

Check out this nice performance of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony shot almost the entire time in EXTREME CLOSE-UP.

The Tuning Wars

December 5, 2013

As conductors, we are (usually) preoccupied with tuning.  One of my edicts is to have the orchestra tune “mindfully.” I regularly coach my groups to tune thoughtfully, and with a beautiful sound.

But… do we really know when we’re in tune? I mean, of course we do, right? Certainly we can hear when we are out of tune. But, how “in tune” is being “in tune?”

I am having a bit of fun here, but it is a fascinating question.

In a former life, I played mandola in a mandolin quartet (two mandolins, a mandola, and a mandocello). Let me tell you, we could spend an hour just “microtuning” our instruments to get them in tune with one another. (I mean, think of all those doubled strings!!)


(Members of the mandolin family – note the mandobass in the back!)

Check out this great article about tuning systems. (Allow yourself some time, the article is pretty darn thorough.)

Also, take a night and read this funny, interesting book:

How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why you Should Care)

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Ten Tips to become a Conductor

November 30, 2013

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Ten Tips to become a Conductor

A great and quick read from BBC News and Esa-Pekka Salonen!

I especially found # 5 very interesting:

5. Shed your thick skin and don’t scare people

Ranting and raving and scaring everybody doesn’t work in my opinion. The conductor as a lion tamer/policeman/ kindergarten teacher/priest is no longer necessary. It’s about being able to focus the thoughts and ideas of a large group of people and enable them to achieve the desired artistic result.

I don’t think thick skin is a good thing to have in this profession. On the contrary you need to be sensitive, you need to be able to feel the vibes of an orchestra on a human level to be able to pick up what’s going wrong. (bold is mine)

What a great thought – staying sensitive to the people around you. I think in our personal conversations we are always encouraging each other to have thick skin and to not let the “haters” get us down. But I really think the idea of keeping yourself sensitive and open to the “vibes of an orchestra” is so important.

Early Music Online

November 29, 2013

The Royal Holloway, University of London, has put up an extensive collection of scans devoted to some of their most fragile and scarce sheet music. This collection dates back to the 16th century, and while not as user friendly as, this site does offer scans of music not easily found otherwise.

You can head over to the site here.


JFK Remembered

November 21, 2013

NPR has a fascinating post about the day that President Kennedy was killed.

You can find the post here.

Osmo Vanska quits Minnesota Orchestra

October 1, 2013

The link below will take you to Norman Lebrecht’s blog, “Slipped Disc.” He puts a LOT of time and energy into this blog, and it’s one worth reading and adding to your list.

In addition to reading about Osmo Vanska quitting the Minnesota Orchestra, I recommend you read the comments below the post. While the whole Minnesota Orchestra situation is quite unfortunate, it is fascinating to read the (generally) well-written and well-thought comments below his post.


Norman Lebrecht

Are YOU prepared?

September 19, 2013

The Wichita Symphony asks: Are YOU Prepared??



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