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I have started following several arts related blogs lately. Today the post at Arts Addict hits exactly on a pet peeve I have: conductors that talk too much during concerts. His post is titled “The Babbling Conductor.” My theory is people come to concerts to hear music! It is not a music history class or a lecture recital; it is ultimately an entertainment product. I am all for program notes and a few brief, hopefully entertaining comments. But that really is enough in most situations.
There is an art to this that actually I think the late Kenneth Schermerhorn managed well when I played in the Nashville Symphony. There is an amount that needs to be said to charm donors and the board, but not so much that an audience begins to think that the conductor is full of themself. Say something when needed but don’t be guilty of talking too much.
UPDATE 2011: Arts Addict seems to be gone from the Internet but it is still a pet peeve, conductors talking too much. However, not long ago I heard several concerts by a conductor who certainly said too little! I don’t know why she did not say a word to the audience on not one but two concerts I heard them conduct. A few words really would have helped. So I guess the point is find that middle ground, help the audience out but don’t pontificate for ages either.