How important is conducting technique?


I’ve been wondering recently about the importance of the physical part of what a conductor does. There are certainly many very renowned musicians with no formal training who are making careers out of conducting (or at least substantially supplementing their usual work with guest conducting.) In many cases these are chamber orchestras or baroque/classical music (often music composed at a time when the conductor as we know him today had yet to become a permanent fixture at the front of the orchestra.) Now I am ruling out poor musicians altogether. I want to know if a conductor can be successful relying on his or her musical mind, without any substantial training in the physical aspects of the task. Does there come a point when a great musician’s lack of training can actually be a detriment on the podium that cannot be overcome by a great musical mind, or even by just a deep passion for the music. Continue reading


…with a bang! (aka: Take That, Cloverfield)

I don’t know much about this guy, but he’s Finnish and this could be the European Union Youth Orchestra… this has to be one of the most awesome videos I’ve seen (well, in the classical music sense anyway.)

The way the camera shakes (it’s sitting on a timpani head) and the way this fellow grins into the camera while he’s still delivering the hammer blow makes it my favourite Mahler 6 Hammer Strike video on YouTube. (Yes these things exist and there are more after the jump.)
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New look


The rebirth of this blog required a new theme. I like this one (Cutline) because it’s easy to read and looks suspiciously like a typical New York Times webpage, thus lending me a certain degree of suggested credibility. I promise a real post is coming. Look how pretty images look now!

I have returned.

You know sometimes you get a little behind on something and then all of a sudden it’s almost mid-February and you haven’t written a single blog entry since September? Well, yeah… I’m back. Continue reading

RĂªveries – Passions

I am rotated out until we start rehearsing Classics 1 the week after next. I’ll be doing a little traveling an also continuing to work on a CPO related project, collecting musician bios and also putting together a survey of ‘interesting’ questions for musicians to answer which marketing and development will be using for various promotional purposes. One of the questions we came up with is Who is your idol? I don’t actually idolize any bass players, but as long as I remember the great conductors of the world have always been people I’ve been deeply fascinated with. As a student Bernstein and Karajan were certainly at the top of my list, and my CD collection reflected that with those two certainly having lopsided representation. Now, as a professional I find that what I admire about certain conductors has changed and there is a certain individual that appeals to the idealist and the dreamer in me… Continue reading

Tasty CPO

Tonight is the annual free Taste of the CPO concert, featuring music from all series, including hits like Beethoven 5 (Classics 1) The Enigma Variations (Classics 5) and a little of Handel’s Messiah (uh… from Messiah.) Conducted by the charismatic and French Pierre Simard, this is an excellent show particularly for those who are new to classical music. As mentioned, admission is completely free with a donation to the Calgary Food Bank.

A historic curiosity

A low brass colleague of mine found this very odd piece of CPO history at a garage sale.


Read on to find out what Albertans (and people who wish they were Albertans) who hate classical music apparently enjoy listening too, I promise, it only gets more interesting.

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