Lileks: We can get another conductor...
- Article by: JAMES LILEKS
- Star Tribune
- October 3, 2013 - 8:22 PM
Sure, lots of swells were shocked when the conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra resigned. You’re serious? You’re not kidding?
There’s still a Minnesota Orchestra?
Well, we can get another. I’ve been to a few orchestra concerts, and as far as I can tell there’s nothing to this conducting racket. You show up, raise your arms to start and then you play Air Orchestra for half an hour. You point at the brass when they’re supposed to come in, like that’s a big surprise to them. Thanks for the heads-up, chief. Only been practicing this one for six weeks.
You make these little shh-shh gestures when the oboe’s too loud, never thinking we might want to hear more oboe. You act like you’re in charge, but you don’t even have any paper in front of you. Then you turn around at the end and bow like you’re personally responsible.
It’s like a guy who stands in front of a newspaper box muttering for an hour, then expects us to think he wrote every work in the latest edition. C’mon.
How’s anyone gonna know he’s gone if the next time there’s a concert, the conductor doesn’t turn around? Slap on an Osmo wig.
This strike, it’s just ridiculous. I’m sure there are reasons, but you know it comes down to the long green. I’ve said it before: There’s nothing as greedy and needy as a professional musician. They all go into the business for the usual reason: fame, money, groupies, hotel parties where the TV sets go out the window into the pool and the manager has to pay off the guy at the front desk.
It’s a pretty good racket: We all see a nice car cruise past and think, “Man, I wish I could get me some of that sweet tuba cash.” You buy a Powerball ticket and think, “This works out right, I could live large like a bassoonist.”
But it doesn’t work out for everyone. Sorry. That’s life.
Now, if there were some skill involved, that would be different. If a musician had to jump off the stage, run up the aisle trying to get past ushers who were blocking you, then turn around at just the right moment and catch a contrabassoon the conductor threw while some guys from the visiting orchestra were trying to knock him down — heck yeah, we’d be impressed.
(By the way, Cleveland’s looking good this year; the cellos have prevented opposing conductors from completing almost half of their movements, although the conductor drew the defense offsides with a long count that consisted entirely of “Bolero.”)
Anyway, as far as I can tell, musicians were all born with “talent” and learned to read those squiggly things on paper, and they get the idea this ought to provide a living.
Such presumptions! But I think we can find a solution.
I know, I know: Won’t this cut into the money the Vikings hope to raise? That’s true. But revenue for 2014 is expected to exceed 2013, which brought in $20.13 (minus $20.12 for operational costs).
Next year, pulltabs are expected to generate $695 million, based on projections from the American Pulltab Promotional Council, and even after expenses and the Vikings’ share, there should be at least $40,000 left over.
That’s more than enough to buy some CDs of some stuff that’s already been played a million times. Use the CDs for half your concerts; budget’s already cut in half.
Next, you count up all the people in the orchestra and you winnow out the deadwood. Start with your violins. Seriously, there’s actually a group called second violins? Unnecessary duplication.
Same for the violas; if they wanted to be taken seriously, they’d be violins.
Whoever bangs on the timpani can hock those whack-sticks and use his fists. Likewise, cymbals: two of them? Can’t see why one wouldn’t do.
As for a conductor, there are probably plenty of people who could wave their arms and get everyone excited. If you’re going to have a cheerleader, why not get someone from the Vikings squad?
Beethoven would be a lot more fun to watch with pompoms, and she’d face the audience, too.
Conductors just turn their back on us, like they’re too good or something.
Hey, you know what would be funny? If someone put a “KICK ME” sign on the conductor’s back just before he went out there. That’d be hilarious.
Of course, it’d be a joke. No one would kick a famous conductor.
Other than the time we just did, I mean.
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