Henry Fogel is the president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, an amazingly well traveled expert on symphonic music and he writes a heckuva a thought provoking blog. Last week, he offered a post about the visual aspect of watching an orchestra, and how that is an occasionally controversial topic in the world of classical music. The idea is the old school feels people are in the concert hall to hear, not see, but newer audiences expect a visual aspect to the music. We're not necessarily looking for choreographed movement or any kind of "show," but we are expecting to see musicians visibly engaged in the music they are presenting. The video, above, is Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, which Fogel cites in his post as an example of an invigorating performance.
I'm not going to attempt to regurgitate Fogel's post, because he covers the topic very well, and I encourage you to click the link and read what he had to say. Reading the post took me both back and forward. Thinking about engaged orchestral musicians reminded me of last Friday night's concert with the University of Kentucky Symphony and cellist Lynn Harrell, which was as animated a symphonic performance as I've seen in a while. It also made me think about the current conductor search the Lexington Philharmonic is engaged in, which continues with tonight's performance conducted by Daniel Meyer. We're now seeing a variety of conducting styles, and the ways in which the orchestra responds. While we obviously want to discuss if we like what we're hearing, isn't it also valid to ask if we like what we're seeing?
UPDATE: Interesting that Fogel returns to the subject in his post today. Also interesting that he addresses Yo-Yo Ma, because Copious Notes talked to Ma yesterday, to advance his March 2 concert in Danville, and he had interesting things to say about the objective of performance. More on that next week.