Tag Archives | CODA

Is There Really A Good Book On Conducting?


Maestro Harold Farberman

I was forced, due to a commitment that got moved up in my schedule, to cancel giving a presentation at the recent CODA annual conference in Salt Lake City.  This was a disappointment as I had planned to give a an in-depth analysis on the difference between the work and attributes of musical directors for theatre compared to orchestral/opera conductors.  Are you surprised that there is a difference?  Well you wouldn’t be alone if you did.  Even conductors and musical directors of theatre don’t seem to know the difference much of the time.  As part of the research for that presentation, I was reviewing all the known resources on the ‘Art of Conducting’ including every published text on teaching conducting – and there are a few!

The problem is most of them aren’t very good.  I was particularly bemused by the author of a book on all things to do with the ‘baton’ published within the the last decade, who is adamant that the book, The Grammar of Conducting by Max Rudolf (multiple editions) should be on every conductor’s bookshelf.  Alas, it wasn’t on mine, so I thought I should both acquire it and read it.  I did.  Oh, dear, it’s really very out-dated and is based on the idiotic assumption that conducting is derived from beat (or beating) patterns!  So, by the way, the author who recommended the book similarly promulgates this approach.

Are there any ‘real’ conductors out there who actually think orchestra players give a toss about beat patterns?  I don’t think so – because they all realise this one basic truth:  Orchestra players CAN count.  They don’t need conductors to ‘beat’ them to death.  There are exceptions to this paradigm; for example, in polymetrical music where rhythmic pulse is the central construct in compositional terms (especially in quick tempi) and, in music with multiple cross-rhythms. Continue Reading →

Forthcoming Events And The Launch of Something Very Close To My Heart

Australian Discovery OrchestraSo, I’ve just realised that I haven’t written a post since July 8 – which even for me must be a record of sorts.  Well, I did go on vacation for three weeks, and did have to move to escape from an insane landlord here in NY, but otherwise I’m not sure what my excuse is?

Oh yeah, I remember now, I’ve been planning a couple of great new projects (actually I’m starting to sound like a character in Andy McDermott’s ‘Nina Wilde’ action novels – which are just just by and by, a great read, not to mention a respite from reading more serious tomes on different aspects of music and theatre).  I digress.

Let’s start with something very close to my heart.  Yes, the logo on the upper left.  In a very few weeks time will see the launch of the new Australian Discovery Orchestra.  What no URL link Kevin?  Apparently the web site is still under development by the management team, so can’t go there right now.  But I can tell you (cue fanfare Mr. Stokowski please!) that I have been appointed Principal Conductor.

The ADO will give two concerts a year (actually three in 2016, but more on that later).  So how did this all come about?  Well a few folk who had some involvement with a previous orchestra project that I had put together in Australia, asked me whether I’d be prepared to help them put together a bigger and better version of the previous enterprise. Who can say ‘no’ to such a request!  And the reason is this: I fervently believed in and nurtured the previous orchestra for several years and it (and by this I mean the orchestral musicians who performed with the orchestra) achieved tremendous results – notably in a very short space of time.  But most importantly, those orchestral players suddenly had opportunities to perform that otherwise previously did not exist.  And that’s why it is so important to me.  Keep and eye out, as I will write more about this when the ADO web site goes live.  It’s going to be great! Continue Reading →