Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Conductors Language

Last night I went to the Utah Symphony with my roommate. I have been to the performances of my college symphony, but I haven't been to a professional symphony before. I enjoyed myself immensely. It was held in Abravanel Hall. The crystals on the large crystal chandeliers captured the light and refracted tiny rainbows over our heads. The musicians all in black and white formally sat on the stage. On the right side, three rows back a violinist pinned a small purple clip to her hair. The small splash of color kept drawing my eye, as if she was saying, "I'm here too even thought I'm in the third row. I want you to see me."
My favorite part of the evening was watching the conductor. The language of conducting is a mystery to me. Sometimes I can match the movement of the conductors arms with the resulting music, but most of the time I'm baffled by it. Like all communication you have the ones conveying the message and the listeners responding. In this case the conductor commands  with his baton and the musicians respond by increasing or decreasing tempo as well as other commands. Thierry Fischer conducted last nights performance. He has guest conducted for orchestras and philharmonics all over the world. He began performing as Principal Flute at the Zurich Opera in Hamburg.Through out the years has played and conducted all over the world. The Utah Symphony is privileged to have Fischer as a conductor for the last two years.
I have seen a variety of conductors and to me most of them look like they are waving their arms around. Fischer on the other hand looked like he was performing magic. His movements were crisp sometimes slashing other times jabbing. To slow down or soften the music he employed delicate intricate flourishes with his baton. My favorite movement, which I still don't know what it signaled, was when he pointed his baton towards the ground and pointed down with the other hand as well. He thrust his arms up and down, almost like he was dancing. His whole body held rigid and from his profile all the muscles in his face clenched tight in concentration. Instead of birds fluttering out of his baton or sparks of light; music, purposeful and obedient jumped, sang and mourned following his baton. In a language that most of the audience doesn't understand Thierry Fischer directed the symphony to spill forth music that anyone can interpret and understand, making black note figures translate into grace and beauty.


  1. This was fun to read. I liked the line: "Instead of birds fluttering out of his baton or sparks of light; music,".

  2. Thanks I'm glad you enjoyed it. I was thinking about you guys while at the symphony and that you would really enjoy it.