time to talk

“I don’t want to talk, I want to communicate with this,” says Mihhail Gerts at one point during his 15 minutes with the Guildhall orchestra, waving his baton.

Words that orchestral musicians are always glad to hear (and a reason why conducting students tend to have it drummed into them to keep rehearsals moving), but today there’s another reason to keep words to a minimum.

With only a quarter of an hour to impress the judges you need to ask yourself if what you are saying is worth eating into that valuable time. If you can show what you want with your gestures and get the response you are looking for, that’s so much more efficient. Indeed, in a field of work as international as music you’re not always going to have a range of familiar words to call on to make yourself understood. Funnily enough, when things are going so well, as they were for Italian Giancarlo Rizzi as he settled into the Beethoven first movement, it can even be that talking makes things unclear.

So could some of this morning’s competitors talked less? In a couple of cases (but not Rizzi I have to say), yes perhaps. It never got to the point where players were fidgeting or looking bored. But let’s see what happens if the energy levels drop towards the end of the day.

Chairman of the Jury Lennie Mackenzie surveys the scene