I was recently at a conducting conference in Oxford, UK, designed by academics for academics. Beyond giving a paper concerning technical issues with live-streaming concerts and the inherent challenges of new strategies in audience engagement, it was, for the most part, an uninteresting conference populated by college and conservatory conductors (both instrumental and choral educators) – some of whom I must say have very peculiar ideas as to what constitutes conducting as a communicative musical artform.
There was one session, however, in which the very wonderful conductor, William (Bill) Christie, was interviewed about his career and work in historically informed productions and research into Baroque French Opera. This session alone was worth the price of admission, so I was glad that I went to the conference in the final wash-up.
But the conference, as it went on, made me give thought to the very vast differences there are between conductors who work as conductors in the professional music industry (arcane as it is) and others who spend inordinate amounts of time and energy undertaking “research” into what is referred to as, ‘Conducting Studies’. Continue Reading →