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Explore Excerpts from The Double Reed

Conductors and Orchestras

John Steinmetz (Altadena, California)

After several decades of orchestral playing, I have come to believe that the power relations between players and conductors often prevent orchestras from reaching their potential. Conductors have too much power, and that power too often hampers players, orchestra organizations, and conductors themselves. The culture of communication in orchestras tends to allow musical and interpersonal problems to fester. To make matters worse, conductors generally receive little or no supervision; their superiors are non-musicians who cannot assess a conductor’s effectiveness.

Despite investing considerable energy in coping with these problems, orchestras don’t discuss them much. I want to encourage discussion so that orchestras can search for solutions. My purpose here is to stimulate conversation.

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