con·duc·tor noun \kən-ˈdək-tər\ : a person who stands in front of people while they sing or play musical instruments and directs their performance.
This is the Merriam-Webster definition for a conductor. I have been curious about the exact role that a conductor plays in musical performances since I first discovered that they even existed. My interest in conductors dates all the way back to singing in my elementary school’s choir, when I was conducted by my music teacher. My recent viewing of Verdi’s Nabucco along with this Improv Everywhere skit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_cbnBak8RI) that allowed everyday people to try their hand at conducting brought back all of the memories and questions that I had garnered over the years about conductors.
I feel like there’s no way that I can be the only person who is persistently perplexed by the exact role that a conductor plays during the performance. Even the dictionary definition doesn’t give that much insight to their exact duties.
From afar, the task may not look very difficult, but after some quick research it is easy to understand the complexity of the role. They must unify the performers, set the tempo, execute clear beats, shape the sound of the performance, cue in all of the performing forces, and control the pacing of the music. All of this communication is done through hand gestures and of course without any verbal communication. A small mistake like changing the size of one of your hand gestures can drastically alter the tone of the performance. All of these factors lead me to understand why the conductor is such a revered position. Maybe if I ever come across another situation like the one shown in the video I’ll attempt to conduct, but for now I’m fine with watching the professionals from afar.
Do you think that you’d be able to conduct an orchestra?