debtFor the audience, the orchestra conductor is a mysterious and unknown figure. They stand with their backs to us, dance, wave their arms, and perform a series of incomprehensible gestures that are somehow interpreted by the musicians on stage to produce beautifully synchronized sounds. When the conductor turns around at the end of the song and smiles and bows, it’s almost a shock. It’s a real person there, not a mechanical arrangement of limbs and batons.
Alice Farnham herself, a British conductor of great experience and admiration, wrote this book with the intention of demystifying this secretive profession. Although she states up front that it is “not a handbook for conductors”, it does consist of theme-specific chapters such as “Basics: Hands and Baton” and “Preparing to Play”. Occasionally, Farnham strays from her narrative to include hands-on conducting exercises that curious readers can try for themselves. If you tap the time, you’ll quickly realize that the conductor has to control many aspects of the music (speed, volume, character).
The book also includes several memoirs, in which Farnham describes her childhood musical experiences and the musical education that led her to become a conductor. She lost her father, who was her pastor, in a sailing accident just before her tenth birthday. A description of her time as a “cleric orphan” at a boarding school she founded in 1749 for “fatherless daughters of the clergy” is one of her more moving sections. am.
A major part of Farnham’s professional life reflected in the book is her work to improve the accessibility of command to those other than white men who have been the default for that role for centuries. , taken from a 2015 report by Dr. Christina Scharf. The report found that only 1.4% of UK professional orchestra conductors were women.
In Good Hands is full of anecdotes that illustrate this inequality. Evaluation of performances by female conductors tends to emphasize appearance rather than musicality. In 2001, Farnham was told by an older male conductor (unfortunately anonymous) that he needed “high levels of testosterone” that “women can’t conduct because their breasts get in the way.” Even today, efforts to increase the number of professional female conductors have been met with criticism that they have gone too far, with numbers approaching her double digits.
This book is at its best when it takes the reader behind the scenes of the eccentric world of classical music. It’s Co. Here you can experiment with different sizes and shapes until you find the right one for your ambitious ‘arm flapper’. Most of a conductor’s work is invisible. I spend dozens of hours preparing scores before I start rehearsing with the musicians. Conducting an orchestra well is like being an orator, a diplomat, and a general all rolled into one. At the same time, you can keep dozens of lines of complex music straight in your head.
Perhaps because the role itself is so multifaceted, the book is about to become so many different things: an educational aid for aspiring conductors, a memoir, classical music’s famous opaque A way of looking at everything in the world, a manifesto for change, and so on. Still unbalanced territory, group biographies of 16 famous conductors, etc. Sadly, the alchemy that brings together so many disparate elements on the podium is not recreated on this page. .