8 comments on “In praise of Maestro Minkowski

  1. you know it took me a while to truly appreciate Minkowski. in my very short period of attending live opera performances, there were so many times i saw conductors just drowning out singers (including Rigoletto in Wien). What i noticed in Alcina was that i enjoyed thoroughly the music and the beautiful singing. that’s what a great conductor does, highlights the music and supports the singers. the fact that I did’t notice him at all, to me, means that he doesn’t feel the need to demand attention and instead spends his effort making the beautiful music available to us. i took the curtain call of the Nov-17 performance (didn’t post it on youtube), and there you can see immediately when people started clapping for him, he pointed out one by one the individuals in the orchestra to give them credit and let them have their moments (the whole sequence took nearly 2 min).
    there’s a video of him conducting Rameau’s “Forêt paisibles” that’s also really exciting to listen to.

    • Thanks so much for giving us a musician’s eye view on him. As one with no experience on that side of the stage I have to say he cretainly always appreas to be someone who really ‘works’ his orchestra in a most thoughtful and sensitive way.

      I have always adored watching him conduct to the extent that I often end missing the stage action (even, on one occassion, VK!). I remember his Royal Festival Hall concert production of Agrippina last year, he was SO into it, even getting in on the acting at various points; there’s a Charlie Chaplin in there waiting to get out. After that show we went to the bar for a drink and he appeared at the table next to ours, nearest I have come to being star-struck since the day I dropped a packet of cornflakes at the feet of Ingmar Bergman. Only just resisted the temptation to rush up and profess undying love.

      Would love to hear more from you though on the conducting process… how on earth does one decide to do that, and that decided how does one really learn…?

      • There are various paths to take- most take the academic one, some the competition one and some conduct after their career in another branch of music comes to an end or they diversify. I had conducting thrust upon me at a very early age when my highschool teacher got sick and she told me to take over the choirs and orchestra. After college I cut my teeth on brass bands and male voice choirs in The North – the musical equivelent of stand-up in working mens’ clubs! And then on to pit work as bass or MD. This lead to choirs, choral works, educational projects, stage shows, operetta and opera. The technique is easy to learn…. The rest tends to come with experience and getting people to trust you.

        • Oh LOL, working mens’ clubs for conducting, I’ll never listen to a brass band again without giggling at that thought. By ‘eck lass, must ‘ave been hard work.
          You seem to have specialised in singer/performer involved stuff, is that chance or preference? Is it a different / additional skillset to more orchestral work?

          • I do tend to prefer the short-term commitment that theatre work affords. Most orchestral stuff is long-term and there are fewer opportunities. The main extra skill involved with orchestras is overcoming any prejudice to a woman ( preparation and humour a prerequisite ) Pit work is great and has the added advantage of one being free to flirt outrageously ( sorry, I mean musically connect ) with anyone on stage! — Eye skills essential.

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