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QEC text

We want your course to live online forever, so maybe


we can have an ending that makes this work as a
standalone piece too? Something short and upbeat every performance is different, good luck, sort of
thing?
mail@andydoe.com / www.andydoe.com /
+447714948971
Sent from my iPhone
On 18 May 2015, at 19:12, Marin Alsop
<Niram1@aol.com> wrote:
Thanks so much Andy.
Can you help kind of script it out with me? How did I
start the others?
Im speaking to you today from Brussels where I am
conducting the finals for the Queen Elizabeth Violin
Competition. Since accompanying is one of the most
difficult aspects of our role as conductors, I wanted to
give you a behind the scenes look at my approach to

working with soloists.


For me, it is the consummate collaboration although I
always take the approach that it is my responsibility as
the conductor to support the soloists vision of the
piece he/she is performing. That said, if I vehemently
disagree with the soloists approach and feel it is a
distortion of the composers intent, it is my
responsibility to work toward influencing the
interpretation. Fortunately, I have only very rarely felt
this way and I usually find working with soloists to be
intensely gratifying. With younger soloists it is more
often the case that their interpretations are not yet well
formed and I can be both a support as well as a real
partner in helping them shape their point of view.
First I will meet with each soloist and go through the
piece. It is especially important for hug conductors to
hear the soloist play the entire work, not just tricky
resemble spots. Dont be afraid to ask the soloist to
play through everything for you!
Technically the key is to have one ear absolutely
glued to the soloist while your other ear is on the
orchestra and balances. My goal is to to feel as

though I am playing the piece along with the soloist


rather than listening to the soloist. I always tell my
students hear everything but listen to nothing
because listening is a passive action and means that
you are probably behind in your reactions.
Another trick is to react but not overreact to what the
soloist is doing. Remember that rubato is most
successful when there is a solid framework as a
departure point. So, for example, if a soloist pushes
and pulls in every phrase, perhaps it is better for you
and the orchestra to remain steady and let him/her
have freedom around that reliable foundation.
Balancing the orchestra is essential. The first run
through with a soloist is ALWAYS too loud. If you
have the rehearsal time, let the orchestra blast away
the first time and then go back and INSIST on what is
needed for the soloist to be heard. I rarely work on
balances the first time through because it takes a
while for the orchestra to adjust to their supporting
role. Le them adjust and then be relentless in getting
the proper balance.
For most concerti for violin, viola, cello, I will reduce

the strings by one stand to 14 first, 12 second, 10


violas, 8 cell, 6 bassi. For certain classical works I
reduce the strings even further. (Mozart 12, 10, etc,
some very transparent 20th century works like
Prokofiev violin cto #1). But balancing the orchestra
and creating compelling sound worlds and colors is
usually separate from the number of strings used.
It is critical that the musicians in the orchestra
ALWAYS know where they are in the piece. I often
show two fingers to indicate two measures before they
come back in, or err on the side of clarity, especially
following a section where I am not conducting
(cadenza, extended passage, etc).
But above all, accompanying a soloist is about being
the person they can rely on, lean on, turn to. I have
had soloists skip major sections of a piece and it is
MY job to get the orchestra back on track (even by
calling out rehearsal letters now and then!) I have felt
soloists losing their cool and then it becomes MY job
to be doubly attentive, calm and supportive. As the
conductor I am the gas to the soloists flame; the
outstretched arm for them to grab on to or just to lean
on.

This role applies to stage etiquette as well. I always


hang back a bit and applaud my soloist when entering
the stage and only when he/she has settled into
position do I take the podium. The same applies at the
end of the piece: it is the soloists moment to shine
and all attention deserves to be on him/her. I am there
as a kind of chaperone, accompany the soloist off
stage and back on, after a solo bow.
I always shake my concertmasters hand after the
concerto and then acknowledge any major solos by
orchestral musicians when I return with the soloist,
before giving the entire orchestra a bow.
Join me now as I work with twelve outstanding young
violin soloists. We have 4 Brahms concerti, 3 Sibelius,
2 Tchaikovsky, 2 Bartok #2 and 1 Shostakovich #1
over the next ten days. Tune in to see how different
each collaboration can be.