Music and Vision homepage All Risks Musical - an irreverent guide to the music profession by Alice McVeigh


<<  -- 3 --  Bill Newman    SHARING THE RESPONSE


There is a lot of talk about the conductor's eye contact with his players. With you, your legs are never still like your arms and hands. And the posture -down, facing the players when you want to be exact in your intentions, with the dramatic upward- sideways sweep to usher in the next tutti ... 'The truth is, I don't know, and I would be very worried to see myself. I must be concentrating because if I am really in the music it must be natural. Music is breathing, it is time, the beat, pulsation -- sometimes very fast, sometimes very slow.'

You mentioned another teacher who inspired you to take up conducting. 'Daniel was for the orchestra; the other was the choir master of the Moravian Teachers Association from the first part to the middle of last century -- Jaroslav Fata. Janácek wrote those very difficult choruses for them to sing. I was very happy studying with Fata, who could also be hard. "Third bar from the top", then "second bar from the bottom -- transpose into the dominant". It was very thorough training and soon it became automatic. We had to spend hours and hours with him at the piano, and very soon I was able to conduct.' First of all, this was with the school orchestra, then there was the Besancon Festival competition, after which he became assistant conductor to Vaclav Neumann in Germany.

'I sat in at his rehearsals, after which he allowed me to take over certain ones myself. Then I conducted some concerts, which continued later with the Czech Philharmonic.' Meeting up with Libor Pesek at Parabidce and Prague, the two became firm friends and colleagues. Pesek first invited him to come to Liverpool in 1994.

What happens after Liverpool? 'Who knows! Nobody knows what happens to conductors, and having family obligations with children who need to study imposes certain priorities. Not knowing what is to come in a year's time can be good because you can lead your life with moderation! I still have a contract in Konstanz until 2004, but conductors are required to be here and there. You have many adult, professional orchestras, but in Konstanz I can see the results of my training at the very good school I attended far easier, and how things have developed with my orchestra there over a five year period. In Liverpool, I have more freedom to think deeper about Korsakov and Brahms! You can assess the professional results quite clearly after the concert has taken place.'

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Copyright © 5 July 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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