For those who find what happens in a symphony orchestra a mystery, including the conductor’s completely obscure and visual incantation-like activity, the institution of a rehearsal may raise a double question mark. And yet musicians – except perhaps opera singers – spend the vast majority of their time sitting in endless rehearsals, and the sense of it all is often, let’s be honest, not clear even to them.
The basic expectation (which of course is rarely fully met) is that everyone arrives fully prepared for the first orchestral rehearsal so, in theory, the 3-hour orchestra rehearsal is not the place for individual practice (depending on the size and quality of the orchestra, such an occasion costs the orchestra’s owner around 500,000-1,500,000 HUF). What is it good for then? Well, ideally, if everyone knows everything, it’s “just” a matter of setting the proportions, climaxes, tempos, characters, pitches, timbres in a uniform manner, and that’s all the conductor’s responsibility. It’s not his job, because the baton would not make a sound even for God’s sake, but he has to settle these “matters” reassuringly before the orchestra can perform in front of an audience. The full realization of such a thing differs from person to person, some need one, some would need thirty to achieve satisfaction, but this is only one of the building stones of success.
It is also a matter of the rehearsals in what state of mind the musicians will go into battle, how much confidence they will have in the conductor,whether they dare to trust him in an otherwise stressful concert situation, and whether the conductor – like a good military leader – can pull some unexpected stunt in front of the audience, which will turn his orchestra wild, close to a catharsis. Will those 50-80-100 people who are all masters of their craft (in their own opinion, usually the greatest masters) and who often know more about the details of the performance than the maestro himself, become his instrument? Well, you can guess this already during the rehearsal process, and although many times a concert by a good rehearsing conductor turns into a boredom and vice versa, rehearsal is an act of establishing (mutual) trust.
Like the date before the act of love, you need it if you want a lasting experience later. But trust goes both ways, so one of the biggest “wow” experiences for young conductors is when they first start to trust the orchestra (own experience). This is when miracles happen, however without this confidence, the most serious rehearsal process and the most prepared baton virtuoso can only expect a mediocre, slightly uninspired and certainly forgettable performance on stage. Nevertheless, all those people bought their tickets not for fake sighs…
So, let’s trust the orchestra and miracles will happen!
Author: Máté Hámori