Barbara Hannigen Conductor and Soprano
Barbara Hannigen Conductor and Soprano

It must be remembered that a conductor is there as a musician to serve the music and the composer. The worse thing for a conductor is to get in the way. Of course, it is a delicate balance but given the baton, he directs all the way no matter how complex it may be.

Each time I am at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, I am drawn to the conductor (and the lead violinist) and the rest are the ensemble whether strings, wind or brass. A tiny hesitation on the part of the director that will impact the orchestra is like a city bus grinding to a halt.

Discovering new and young conductors are part of LPO's foremost concern because while the popular ones are the toast of the day. Scouting for energy and a mixture of knowledge and also a tremendous taste for discovery.

Some orchestras have grown famous under theirs, others perform without them.

What makes them different?

Some conductors feature highly whenever great musical maestros are remembered. But to some of us who just see them waving their arms around a concert podium, may appear overrated.

I am not being unkind to them because I think all they do is help the orchestra keep time. I think may be people do not understand the role of a conductor. Yet, they become the voice of the creator. Then, his life is brought to life through the musicians. The analogy is sort of bringing a actor to the stage. But I am more than inspired by their dedication; the hours of rehearsing, scripting and the home-work that go into their efforts.

Then, we have the singer-conductor combination who looks differently in her conducting like Barbara Hannigan who is a Stravinsky expert. I am able to see the difference, perhaps from a women's point of view. Hannigan is a world-class soprano.

Though it is sort of part coach and part captain, technically binds them. They cannot separate each other. Sometimes it is hard for audience to understand why a piece of music has been written and the historical context that produce works of art.

One must remember apart from conducting that he has a roving eye in each in the ensemble and might even communicate with a nod of appreciation. One of the many amazing things is the flexibility with an uncanny ability to identify with what kind of music they are directing. The sheer quality of playing and the sound that fills the air is a real celebration both for the conductor and the player.

One cannot stop learning or for that matter listening and exploring because they all bring new approaches. Conducting is a language and the syntax of the language develops as a conductor through one's life.

The conductor comes back to something that is familiar and face a new challenge that is a treat.

Exploring new dimensions and sounds that come fresh are what they search for. When they find plenty of opportunities, naturally they are excited more than you or me. If one is to follow their themes, they are intelligently constructed.

The baton follows every nich and corner dealing with harmony. Exciting contemporary classical music are the ultimate goal.

All these I have observed and followed through with a keen eye, balanced mind and with a open heart from my seat at South Bank Centre's London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of iconic conductors.