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Classical Notes

The Relationship Between Conductor and Orchestra

Posted at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2009 by Gillian Martin

A few years ago, a friend went to a symphony concert (not something she does often). Afterward she asked me, "What is the conductor for? The musicians don't even look at him."

Well, in this blog entry I think Henry Fogel (former president of, now senior advisor to the League of American Orchestras) answers that question as well as anyone, and also gives an inside look at the conductor-orchestra relationship:

Yes, there is an element of "the boss" about the role. But more importantly there is the role of colleague...The conductor's job is to lead, inspire, provoke, stimulate, challenge, and bring about a performance that comes alive to the audience as something more than a recitation of the notes.