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Friday, June 6, 2008

Reality TV hits conducting

"Maestro" is the title of the new BBC reality series where, as Norman Lebrecht states it, "the winner among eight para-celebrities gets to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra during the Last Night of the Proms, a ticket to world fame."

The contestants are made up of 2 rock stars, 2 newscasters, 3 actors (including David Soul of Starsky and Hutch!), and one comedian, each of whom gets 5 days of "total immersion" and some review sessions.

Interesting (with all that word often implies).

I'll be honest, I don't think the "conducting" part of conducting is the most difficult part. Many famous musicians have turned to conducting at some point in their careers, and successfully. Others have not been so successful, such as Dietrich Fisher-Diskau (as an aside, when he told Otto Klemperer that he'd be conducting a Schubert symphony the next week, Klemperer reportedly growled back, "And I'll be singing Winterreise.")

But those musicians who made a successful career in conducting were musicians with a thorough training and background before making the switch. Lebrecht says, "Consider Maestro on a relative scale of values. What if the BBC tried a talent show for new heart surgeons, with the winner performing a live angioplasty after five days’ boot camp and three weeks on the ward? Unthinkable, you’d say, it’s a matter of life and death. . . But music? Anyone can do music. You don’t have to give up childhood and six years in conservatory to sing Nessun Dorma or conduct Turandot. Four weeks of being taught how to fake it and you can fool the world. That’s what the BBC is putting over in Maestro: the principle that art is unimportant and the public are plain mugs."

What do you think?

Oops . . . didn't realize John Brough had blogged on this already. Here it is.

2 comments:

John Brough said...

I agree with you on all fronts here, I also posted about this a while back when then announced that it was going to happen, the title of my post is "Another attempt at classical reality", and lately (as I think the episodes are underway) I've received a lot of comments on it, most of them defending the series, which is interesting. I'm still not convinced it is what classical music, or conducting needs in order to gain public recognition.

However, secretly, I have to admit, if I could get this show on TV - I'd watch ever episode!

Richard said...

John,

Sorry I missed your blog on this--don't know why I did, you're on my google reader.

But I admit, too, if I could watch this show, I would!