The Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s Blog

Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, has a blog:

This story is about orchestra empowerment.

Throughout the rehearsal process of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, I had been aware that one of the violinists had been sitting in an overly-relaxed, almost slouched position. By the time of the dress rehearsal, her posture, still unchanged, was in noticeable contrast to the other players, who were now fired-up and physically demonstrative. Although her playing was completely professional, the gut-wrenching intensity of Mahler’s final testament made her off-hand appearance, dispiriting in any performance, seem particularly incongruous in this one.

At the end of the rehearsal, I went up to her and asked whether anything was amiss. Her response surprised me. “Are these your bowings?” she inquired. When I told her that these were the bowings we had used in our last performance in Boston, she commented, “The music goes too fast for all these bow changes. I just cannot get into the string.” Since I know how difficult it is to apply a fast-moving bow to the string with enough pressure to make a big sound, I suggested that perhaps we should take a slower tempo. But she was taken aback. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she remonstrated, “you should perform it the way you feel it. But you did ask.”

(via Universal Hub)