Music as Alchemy: Journeys with Great Conductors and their Orchestras

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Simon Rattle talks to Tom Service from Hay Festival | Podbay

I took comfort in the fact that even these people at the very top of their game still struggle with the same issues that I come across: how to lead without putting people off, how to communicate what you want to hear, how to ensure that people stay focussed and happy, how to maintain a vision, how to keep your energy up.

Service shared some lovely little details about how some of the orchestras actually work.


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I enjoyed reading about how and this is going to sound silly but bear with me important the MUSIC is to the conductors. Whilst they care about their player's welfare etc.


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It would have been great if one of these conductors might have been a choral conductor, but I totally see that wouldn't have been comparing like with like and I still got a lot out of reading it. July 10, Recent Posts. New compositions: Update.

Music as Alchemy: Journeys with Great Conductors and their Orchestras by Tom Service: review

August 30, The Maestro comes onstage to a roar of applause. He has a little piece of wood: the baton.

With it he will stand at the podium, face a throng of musicians, and, with nary a word, count off a piece of music in front of them. One, two, three, and with a flick of the wrist or the wave of the arm, the orchestra creates music, shepherded by the Maestro.

The conductor shows the band through movement, facial expression and the like, how time will envolve in that short span of music.


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The conductor is there to bring the music to life, communicating their own sense of the work through gestures. They bring their own sensibilities to the piece.

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A conductor can not simply stand up on the podium ready to play a symphony by Beethoven without ever having studied the score. They could — of course — but by studying the piece one can interpret it.

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By interpreting it, one can color it.