On Conducting 5

The Rise and Rise of Conducting Resources

I have been somewhat fascinated with the rise of apparent resources for aspirational conductors during COVid-19 lockdown. Why have these resources appeared when they were markedly absent before the global pandemic?

There are three resources to review today:

  1. Maestro as Professor
  2. Conductors’ Collective
  3. Conducting Artistry

The first two are American-based initiatives, and the third an Australian intitiative.

Maestro as Professor
In some respects, the website name says it all. This is an initiative created by Caroline Watson from the University of Kansas and Chaowen Ting from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The website is a starting point for those student conductors wishing to pursue a career primarily in academe. The founders pitch appropriate levels of expertise to their intended clientele. There are webinars to watch – the one by Ken Kiesler is a standout – and a useful list of places from where to purchase batons (although everyone knows you go to Tate Newland).

Other websites with similar information are available on the Internet, so start here and move your way up.

Conductors’ Collective
This is membership-based website offering some freemium services, but is essentially an enterprise to make money for its founders, Kensho Watanabe and Lina Gonzalez-Granados. Signup is required without any assurance that your private information won’t be on-sold to third parties. From their website I quote,

“Conductors’ Collective was founded out of a desire to thoughtfully contribute to the global community of musicians in a time of isolation and distance – the Conductors’ Collective fosters an environment of collective mentorship and shares leadership principles that are accessible and applicable for all.”

I find this fairly disingenuous since the website is spruiking for business in pay-for-service areas including resume/cover letter/bio reviews, rehearsal footage review, intensive score study lessons amongst other services.

My question is why would young conductors who hardly have a foothold in the professional world, and with minimal professional experience, be offering such services when they are readily available for free from established conductors who are always more than willing to offer advice to younger colleagues? Think I’d pass on this one.

Conducting Artistry
This is an initiative by Australian conductor, Ingrid Martin. Again, it’s a pay-for-service website aimed at aspirational conductors predominantly at the school aand community music level. Essentially, the idea is to offer structured conducting lessons online in a sequential series of short courses. The site also offers a podcast series which, whilst not unique, is novel.

Importantly, and unlike the above initiative, Conducting Artistry has a compliant Privacy Policy and Terms of Use section.

What appeals to me about this initiative is that it aims to cover a significant shortage in instruction at the very basic level for conductors in Australia. The cost for each module is given and the content covered within each is clearly outlined. For those starting out, especially without access to a private teacher (and there very few reputable conducting pedagogues in Australia) what Ingrid offers is both valuable and sorely needed. Big thumbs up.

More soon,

Kevin

Music Theatre Melbourne Competition

COVID: The Musical??? Poster

I utterly admire any musical theatre producing organisation in Australia that puts Australian musical theatre creatives front and centre in their mission statement – and then actually follows through on enacting that mission. Kudos then to Music Theatre Melbourne (MTM) for leading the way in this regard.

Over the years there have been several ad hoc initiatives across Australia to provide composers/songwriters, lyricists and book writing teams with opportunities to create, critique, workshop and, in rare instance, receive a fully-staged production of new work. Previously, the best of these initiatives was the long-running OZ Made Musicals but that baton has now been passed, for all intent and purposes, to MTM.

Leaving myself aside, the judging panel secured for this contest is well and truly up to the unenviable task of reviewing submitted entries down to a shortlist before final judging.

Leading the panel is AFI Award-winning director, screenwriter and author, Peter Fitzpatrick. With the exception of Peter Pinne and Peter Wyllie Johnston (Authors of The Australian Musical: From the Beginning) I doubt there is anyone who knows more about theatre in Australia than Peter. Angela Scundi is an outstanding musical theatre actor whose song interpretation skills rival the best I have seen in this country – and it is so very important to have the actor’s voice present in assessing new scripts. Lastly, stage director and choreographer, Roman Berry, is a hugely talented independent theatre maker whose work in the U.K. has been widely lauded across the industry.

To all submitting writing teams, I wish you all the best. We’re so keen to read and listen to your work. I’m sure, once again, I will be reminded how much musical theatre writing talent we have – but have yet to learn to appreciate and fully support – across the Australia performing arts industry.

Stay safe,

Kevin