I always wonder at a first rehearsal with an orchestra as to how the conductor relates to the orchestra players. Is he detached from them or is he part of them? For me, as the guest soloist, it is important to 'feel' that initial vibe. I came to realize that communication is not in the words that he says, but in the general manner he addresses the musicians. That first moment is crucial as it determines the quality of the work process and ultimate outcome of the cooperation.
'Good leadership enables employees to perform their best'
Business and music leaders face similar issues when working with their teams. Both have to be effective in enabling employees/musicians to perform their best. How do music leaders gain trust, respect so essential to achieving performance excellence? Here are the thoughts of an orchestral player as to the orchestral player – conductor relationship.
“There is a very subtle aspect of the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra. We can tell if we are sitting as an assembled orchestra when a conductor takes one step towards us whether he is on the side of the players, whether he associates himself with us or not. We don’t even need him to reach the podium and say ‘Good morning’. We can tell. It’s something in the manner. Beecham had this quality, supremely, as did Boult and Barbirolli. Sargent not at all. And Karajan’s manner? Well, it was very pleasant. It’s a stupid word, I know, but it’s true. He was very pleasant. For all his celebrity and charisma, 'when he walked out, we felt he was one of us.’
(Beecham, Boult, Barbirolli, Sargent and Karajan were leading music conductors of the 20th century.)
Are you a leader who is ‘on the side of the players’?