Realities of the Musical Life


Two interesting blog posts at the Minnesota Orchestra’s Inside the Classics blog (link on my blogroll) this past week.  Sarah Hatsuko Hicks, Assistant Conductor, wrote both.  The first, on December 12, discussed the importance of protecting a conductor’s (or musician’s) sense of hearing, and how loud it can get for a conductor on the podium.  The second, on December 19, discussed the trials going on at the Seattle Symphony between orchestra and music director.

I had never imagined, ever, that it could be dangerous for a conductor’s ears and hearing to conduct.  I had observed some musicians, especially those near the percussion or brass, using earplugs at times.  Also, I’ve observed protective clear shields put up between the brass and strings also.  But the conductor?  He or she needs to be able to hear the sound the orchestra produces, loud and soft.  And orchestras can produce extremely loud music at times.  Hicks writes about resting her ears.  I think this is something I need to keep in mind for Evan Quinn.  Plus, how loud is the world in 2048-50?  I’ll need to be more aware of Evan’s sense of hearing beyond how he hears the timbre of voices when people speak to him, and his work on the podium.

As for the Seattle Symphony, a fine orchestra, it saddens me to read about the rancor between musicians and conductor.  It reminds me of a CEO and the leadership requirements for him/her to continue in the job.  If a CEO stops being an effective leader and doesn’t deliver, he gets booted.  A music director has more to the job description than conducting the orchestra, but the artistic leadership needs to be at the top of the list of responsibilities.  So, I hope they are able to reach a resolution in Seattle that will be the best for the artistic level and needs of the organization.  I have been thinking about whether or not Evan will become a music director at some point in his new life in Europe.  He’s been content to be a freelancer, having served as a music director in America, and in later books will be in the running to become the chief conductor of a European orchestra.  I think he probably has enough to deal with to resolve the situation around his big secret.  But we’ll see…..  

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