I Need $25,000…

Music makes me sing
on the inside… Classical
makes me dance out loud.

I guess this post should be titled “I want $25,000″. For what I want it for surely can’t fall into the “need” category. One of my secret desires (at least one I haven’t revealed in these pages) is I want to conduct an orchestra someday. Not just a few strings and wind instruments… I want the whole kit-and-kaboodle-every-instrument-on-stage set up. And the music I want to conduct is Tchaikovsky’s March  Slav.

I love classical music, and this piece seems to use every instrument. There is a gong, I swear, in the more climactic parts. And you can almost hear the soldiers march and the peasants bemoan the fallen in the melody. But the reason I really want to conduct is I want to look like this:


Joshua Bell with William Eddins conducting at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Photo from the CSO. Click for the link.

If I were a conductor, I’d do it like William Eddins. You could tell he really liked the music.  If jazz needed a conductor, it would pick him. He danced, bounced, nearly ran into Joshua Bell a few times (at least it seemed so from where I sat). In general, he appears to have a great time. There was a priceless moment at the end of one piece by Ravel that showcased his personality. A portion of the audience guessed wrong on the ending and clapped prematurely between movements (a mistake I’ve made many times, but not this time). So when the orchestra at last came to a close, the entire audience sat there quietly for a good 5 seconds, no one wanting to repeat the faux pas and clap incorrectly. Finally, Mr. Eddins looked over his right shoulder, eyebrows raise, as if to say “would you clap already… we’re actually done this time.”  The audience laughed out loud and commenced the applause. It was hysterical. He’s cool.

Another reason I want to conduct March Slav is it kicks ass. The aforementioned Ravel piece was nicknamed the Insomniacs Suite by Frank. It was a real dozer… although I’m sure to someone who understood it musically, it was delightful. That person was not me.  March Slav is quiet and loud, rousing and touching… and the final 2 minutes is crescendo after crescendo of every instrument in the house.  Hard to sleep through that one. And if my air-conducting is any indication, I would be highly entertaining, much like Mr. Eddins, leading most people to stay awake.

And the last reason I want to conduct is I want to make the “I-have-you-by-the-balls” conductors’ gesture without getting in trouble. See Bugs Bunny below.

Mr. Eddins did this Friday night with flair and gusto, although he went for the “low-ball gesture” versus the “high-ball gesture” favored by Bugs. It just looks so powerful when done with a tensed, muscle-y shake and furrowed brow.  I want to be cool like that.

Which brings me to my want of $25,000. I have family members who are classical violinists and have played with orchestras before. When I asked how I might conduct an orchestra some day, they replied all I would need is a lot of money, put forward as a donation to the local orchestra. I’ve decided $25,000 should suffice; I wouldn’t make the orchestra dress up, so perhaps they’d work for cheaper wages.  And I think the possibility of a complete and total conducting-train-wreck would bring out a few people who might not normally attend, thus increasing the reach of the  Symphony who agreed to such a stunt. It really would be a win-win for all.

So why haven’t I started pursuing my dream, which I’ve had for many years now?  Other than the usual twin excuses of not enough time/too much to do, it seems to me  that in a world full of hunger and need, my desire somehow feels ego-driven and frivolous. So I’m going to wait.  But I’m intent to make this happen in my lifetime – mark my words, someday Mr. Eddins will agree to train me and I’ll step to the podium, baton in hand, and bring the crowd to its feet by the end.  Anything with a gong is bound to do that whether I screw up or not.

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