Chasing our Tails…Conductor Smack Down!

The first in a series of Conductor Smack Downs! The topic what we wear, and what the audience wears has popped up yet again.  We so often don’t have an answer to our audience woes, so why do we turn to fashion to solve our problems?  If we are building a house and we are looking at a hole in the ground where it will eventually be, the window treatments should be the furthest  thing from our minds…. Holly’s Partial Observer article mentions the audience expectations in regards to dress.  I am … Continue Reading


Music is now officially a banned substance at marathons and races by USA Track and Field.  We have finally made the sports pages!  We are now the unfair advantage. I met with a friend in Rochester the other day who told me she can run further when listening to the first movement of the Eroica Symphony.  I should have told her to download some Schoenberg as she would also run faster just to try and get away from the sound! In the immortal words of Bill Maher, I kid Schoenberg.….

Continue Reading

What if Classical Music actually functioned as a business?

I am struck by a dichotomy this morning. Like many “classical” musicians of my generation I have a really strong interest in Rock, Jazz, World music, just about anything that strikes my fancy. You could call me part of the iPod generation that way. So I also study the business of the Other Side of Music. In today’s NYTimes is this very interesting article on 360 deals for rising bands. Suddenly my brain drifts into a fantasy —–

Continue Reading

What every musician needs…….

Musicians live in a world of fantasy, aural color, imagination, and all to frequently self-delusion.  But I am fond of reminding people that what we do on a daily basis certainly beats working for a living.  That’s not to say it isn’t hard work, but it is to say that we frequently get much more joy out of what we do than do most people.  But every musician wants to go beyond the daily performance.  We want to be known for all time, for posterity, and be known beyond our little home audience, be that some small town in Wyoming or downtown, New York City.   So, what do we need?  We need a place to make our dreams come true.

Continue Reading

Taking it for Granting…..

The Springfield Symphony (MO) was just awarded a substantial grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for implementing a city wide program of community concerts with the assistance of students from 4 elementary schools helping to produce them with the aid of our professional staff. But, there’s a twist!  Two hours before presenting the proposal to the committee, I was standing in front of my Audience Connections class discussing both the program and the presentation getting their feedback which actually altered my presentation.  However that’s not the twist (more on the program soon).  It’s that the grant is not the reason we are doing the program……

Continue Reading

To cut, or not to cut: that is the question!

I’m a purist.  I admit that.  I prefer my Beethoven fast and furious, the only version of Rhapsody in Blue that I have  or will ever perform is the original Paul Whiteman Jazz Band version, and God help me but every time a Canadian asks me about their national treasure Glenn Gould my blood pressure goes through the roof.  But what about opera?  Specifically, what about Porgy & Bess?

Continue Reading

The First Official Post!

Welcome to Sticks and Drones, the offbeat and probably irreverent new blog about Conducting and all its foibles co-authored by myself and my colleague Ron Spigelman.  Much thought has gone into what should be my first official post and I have decided to make this a tribute to one of the great musicians alive today, my friend, colleague, and mentor Daniel Barenboim.

Continue Reading