"Conducting, and the art of deep listening: A conductor's persepective."

“Conducting, and the art of deep listening: A conductor’s perspective” is a workshop on how the ability to listen is the most essential asset of the orchestral conductor. 

Ask anyone what a conductors job consists of, and they will mention the physical: beating or keeping time. Some may mention creating a mood, the ability to phrase the music or the ability to present a vision for the sound. Few mention listening. The reality is that neither a huge manual talent nor a clear artistic vision or goal, however well articulated, is of use if the conductor cannot listen. 

Listening is more than hearing. As a conductor, listening involves dropping what you expect to hear, or rather ‘suspending’ this expectation for the duration of the time that the orchestra plays. This is not to say that there isn’t an expectation. It says that both exist simultaneously. An excellent conductor has a clear concept of what he wants to achieve, and must show this with great precision, yet he/she also knows to release a certain amount of authority to the orchestra when they play. 

This is a very finely tuned balancing act. This ‘suspension’ is all the more difficult because the conductor is constantly giving a signal of what he wants to hear through his manual gesture. He must however ‘leave room’ to react to what the musicians are playing, to what he is receiving. 

The philosopher Hans Georg Gadamer calls this ‘suspension’ “fore conception of completeness”. He describes that when we read a text, we automatically assume it is correct. When we don’t understand part of a text, we find the fault in ourselves and try to ‘heal’ the text. “Understanding….requires…the fundamental suspension of our prejudices. But all suspension of judgements and hence….of prejudices, has the logical structure of a question. The essence of the question is to open up possibilities and keep them open.”

This workshop, with live symphony orchestra, allows the participant a unique opportunity to physically sit in the orchestra and listen to what the conductor hears. A combination of didactical and experiential components, and allowing for a collaborative exchange, this unique workshop focuses on the listening skills of the orchestral conductor, and how these skills might apply to different professional settings.

Duration: Half day