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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another sign of the apocalypse

Another reality television show, this time for conductors.

I'd earlier mentioned a British television series on conducting with various "personalities" competing. Here a report from The Scotsman.

The author notes:
In each episode of the six-week series, the eight celebrities – drum and bass star Goldie, actress Jane Asher, comedian Sue Perkins, actor Bradley Walsh, newsreader Katie Derham, TV presenter Peter Snow, actor David Soul and pop musician Alex James – will have to conduct a full orchestra in front of a live studio audience. Each week, one will be voted off by an expert judging panel. The victor will win the chance to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra in front of an audience of 30,000, live on BBC2 at the Proms in the Park, as part of the Last Night of the Proms celebrations on 13 September.

He further notes about Goldie:
I watch, fascinated, as Goldie climbs on to the podium at St Cyprian's. A giant, shaven-headed fellow with an imperious demeanour, he is dressed in a yellow T-shirt, tracksuit bottoms and trainers. Gold teeth glint from his mouth. Yet the moment he launches into conducting, I – and the entire orchestra – are spellbound. Eschewing a baton, Goldie communicates the beat through a mesmerising rhythmic dance on the podium. A great slab of a man possessed of a raw physicality, he simply dominates proceedings with his sheer charisma. As he rallies the musicians to a rousing climax in the Brahms and the cymbals and kettledrums crash and pound, I am enveloped by what Phil Spector, in rather different circumstances, called a wall of sound. I'm even more taken aback when the PR leans over and whispers in my ear: "He doesn't read music, you know. He's doing it all on instinct."

I'm glad you don't need any training to conduct Brahms!


rogerm said...

I've just watched the first episode, expecting the worst. However, it was surprisingly interesting. And Goldie demonstrated that, although he may not have any technical background, he does possesses in abundance the most vital quality that any conductor needs: the band really want to play for him.

Richard said...


Where did you see the show? I'd be interested, if available in the US.

And yes, as in my recent post about Dudamel, if your group doesn't want to play/sing for you, no matter how much knowledge you possess, you're lost!

Thanks for posting.

Dr. PW said...

Dick- what is the show called? Maybe clips available on You Tube? Fascinating. . .

Richard said...

Show is called "Maestro"

You can follow the link to the article in the Scotsman to find out more.

Haven't had time to see if it's available on YouTube.

rogerm said...

There does happen to be a clip of Goldie on YouTube.

Maestro is broadcast here in the UK on BBC2. I've now seen the second episode which unfortunately I think was less interesting than the first. Really it needed more explanation/demonstration of what a successful conductor does do. Without that it's just a succession of popular classics conducted badly, which has limited appeal.

David Soul's interpretation of the Barber Adagio failed to impress this week so he was the one to leave the show. The top scoring performance was conducted by Sue Perkins This was of the Simpson's theme tune so if nothing else they are stretching the concept of a popular classic! Sue Perkins did reach grade 8 on the piano in her youth so she probably can tell her crochets from her hemiolas.

You may find this review of the first episode amusing:

YouTube has a clip of the Peter Snow performance:

Richard said...


Thanks for the links!

What's your background, by the way, and how did you find the blog?

rogerm said...

Hi Richard,

I'm an amateur singer, mostly with

I have a search for posts containing the words 'choral music' in Bloglines, which is the feed reader that I use, and I think that where I probably first came upon your blog.

Maestro update.

It was choral classics this week with the BBC Symphony Chorus.

Goldie was top of the pile with the opening of Carmina Burana.

We said goodbye to Bradley Walsh who had conducted Go down Moses from A Child of Our Time. It was an improvement on previous weeks but he had been on borrowed time.

Some of the celebs seems to be taking it quite seriously now.

Richard said...

Nice to hear again from you Roger, and thanks for the update on Maestro! I hope when I have more time I can catch up on YouTube or somewhere.

Keep us informed!