Why I love my job

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by Manny Laureano, May 19, 2005.

  1. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Gentles all,

    When I read Patrick's post about the jerk conductor he had a recent experience with, it made me sad because that sort of behavior is so unnecessary. You motivate players with a sincere love for what you do, not sarcasm and condescension.

    So, I wanted to help counter that with a positive post about our boy, Osmo. The past couple of days in rehearsal have ben intense as we prepare the Eroica, the 1st, and the overture to Fidelio. A few things happened that I wanted to report to give hope that not all conductors are jerks.

    Osmo is very big on getting the biggest dynamic range he can but it goes from the softest he can get not just the loud. It's one of the reaons the MO has such a distinct sound. There are very few orchestras that play a true pianissimo like us. So, he was working on a passage with the fiddles and it was very intense. He yelled out an instruction and I think he saw a reaction on the faces of some of the players. He stopped conducting and said to himself but out loud in a chastened way, "Osmo, why do you have to scream?" Then he sort of shook his head and apologized and proceeded to correct and lavish the fiddles with praise for playing a difficult passage well.

    Yesterday he did something else that'll do your hearts good. He was tuning a tricky section with the woodwinds in finale of the Eroica when he stopped and said something to the strings I've been waiting to hear for thirty years:

    "I have to say something as a wind player (he is a rather good clarinetist). When I am tuning the winds please do not pluck your strings to give the "proper" intonation. This is very annoying. They do not have the opportunity to offer the pitch to correct every one of you when you play out of tune. Maybe your intention is good but it is really hurtful. Please don't do it."

    Praise the lord!

    It's that kind of rehearsing and human relations approach that makes my job an immense pleasure, folks, honestly. There was a time when he first got here where I had my weeks in the barrel. What I've found is that if you really pay attention to what the guy with the stick wants and look at a piece of music in terms of thinking what he's going to want here or there, you're going to have an easier time of it. That only happens as time passes and you pay attention.

    Anyway, I've done this 3rd symphony a hunbdred times but this ranks up there as one of the two best I've ever done. The other conductor I loved doing this with was Klaus Tennstedt. It was the big, romanticized style but I loved every second of it. You know, all the inserts and stuff. Fun to do. This weeks version is all the original notes but very powerful, anyway.

    See you at the hall,

  2. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN

    That was a good story.

    Yes, you are one lucky fellow - not just because God blessed you with the talent of a world class musician, not just because you are able to make a living doing what you love. You are lucky because the people you work with on a daily basis perform so harmoniously. A harmony that occurs because the egos of the musicians are neither coddled to nor suppressed, but thoughtfully nurtured by your leader.

    That level of leadership is EXTREMELY rare in most professions, but is critical to creating healthy, successful organizations that perform at high levels.


  3. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 30, 2003
    Manchester / London
    Nice. :D
  4. Rimshot

    Rimshot Pianissimo User

    Feb 14, 2005
    So, what did their faces look like after he said THAT?! They didn't just get up and walk en masse in protest? :D
  5. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    A conductor who understands how annoying strings can be? :shock: ? I don't believe you ;-)

    If he has persuaded them to stop that, has he had any success in stopping the incredibly pretentious looking wafting of the bow that string players seem to think counts as applauding, when a conductor or soloist comes on?
    I have seen this from both the audience side and the playing side and I still think it looks pretentious not to mention quite stupid, if you don't know that this is what string players do. It surely isn't impossible for them to put one hand against another in rapid repetition?
  6. Rimshot

    Rimshot Pianissimo User

    Feb 14, 2005
    trumpetmike: good luck--many of those bows cost $thousands of bucks.

    I just think it thrilling that wind players may finally be taking over! Gerry Schwartz, now Osmo...so much better than the usual podium fare of ex-string players (who are used to everything sharp), and promoted pianists (who regard intonation as something you pay somebody else to do and who see "con molto rubato" after every tempo marking).
  7. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    You know, as a band director, that story is a very important read; especially with concert season under way. We all tend to get a bit more stressed and it comes out...usually aimed at drummers or students who either didn't practice or act like divas. I would love to be a fly on the wall at MO hall during a rehearsal to watch the Maestro's leadership. Thanks again, Manny...much needed re-focus!

    ROGERIO Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 30, 2004
    Thanks Manny

    Thanks for giving us that indepth story Manny.

    I think for some of us that have never performed in a top / pro orchestra assume that correction of that type never happens... or maybe is never needed.

    How refreshing to hear that it does!!

    Keep giving us these gems Manny. I'm certain I'm not the only one that enjoys hearing about them.

    Just curious... what kind of reaction did he get from the strings???

  9. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN
    ...sounds like Osmo is a traditionalist. That's great, but it makes me a bit nervous.

    I mean...does this mean that so long as he's there I'll never hear 1812 played with children's choir, adult choir, artillery, and military band?

    Just wondering....I still love the Igor Buketoff recording with the New Philharmonia Orchestra the best, and Lord only knows how many years ago that was recorded....

    Sorry for the tangent, it was just a thought.

    (Glad to hear a conducter put the strings in their places!!)
  10. trmptr

    trmptr Pianissimo User

    May 10, 2005
    Bemidji, MN
    Very cool story. It's good to hear about a conductor with passion and common sense!

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