Post-Rehearsal Thoughts, 22 December 2011

This morning we had what I believe was a very productive rehearsal. It’s gratifying to hear things coming together. We did good work on the da Victoria Motets, Armand Russell’s Ultra-Rondo, Simón García’s A Night in Compostela, and Klaus Stoll’s arrangement of a Purcell Air and Dance.

One of the things which struck me, both during the rehearsal and after, was a sense of nervousness I have about giving musical direction. I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing. I mean, it is and it isn’t:

It’s a bad thing

It’s a bad thing to be the leader of a group (any group or team, pursuing any goal or work) and not know what the direction is, that the end goal is, what is the best way to get there.

It’s a bad thing to be weak, wimpy, a pushover and accept every suggestion you hear uncritically.

It isn’t a bad thing

I’ve said (and I added it to my bio blurb on this site) that I want this group to be collegial. Colleagues give and take suggestions and criticisms from each other with respect.

It’s a lot of work to lead a group, especially in a “start up” or “early career” state. There is a website to be maintained, performance details to be organized, contracts and equipment lists to approve, rehearsals to be scheduled, music to be bought and more. If mine was the only voice giving musical direction, well, there wouldn’t be much musical direction. (For those who don’t know me, I also work a full-time job. The bass ensemble, my passion and my joy, is my second career for now.)

Chamber ensembles have to work together. They’re not dictatorships, at least I don’t believe so.

There’s value to be had by combining the wisdom of all the participants in an endeavor.

Consensus, Collaboration, Collegial?

I agree that there are endeavors in the world that should not be run by consensus. But I’m not sure that intimate musical groups are among them. There’s no way a symphony orchestra could run by consensus, but what about a string quarter like the Tokyo? And how does a small group dedicated to a unique repertoire like Kronos manage? How does the collegial aspect of such a group fare when a member has to be replaced? Note to self: see if you can answer these questions before someone does so in the comments!

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