I have performed in hundreds and hundreds of concerts in my lifetime. As a child, I was the fast one, the one that got annoyed at the slowness of others and the ineptitude of various conductors. I was the one that wanted to participate, to move to the music. I longed to move the group. I was a leader. I guess that it's only natural that I wanted to become a conductor. It sounds ridiculous, but I think it's the same reason that girls are often obsessed (as I was) with horses. To control something big, to have an emotional bond with the animal, to feel the wind course through your hair on a trail ride canter, the exhilaration, the smells, the empathy, the danger. Your youthful energy and enthousiasme makes it possible. The thing is, is it necessary to retain this as age sets in? As the need subsides? Is it a sign of maturation, in a positive manner, that the need to lead changes and slightly subsides? Does that fact that experience teaches you to temper yourself and to accept the tempo around you instead of push it on, show signs of a bore-out, or is this natural?
The concept of conducting has always been a questionable issue for me. What is the need for a conductor? Are we simply there to pull up those who can't pull their own weight to join those who can, or do we only give that extra bit of fire, or do we, as a benevolent dictator, lead the group to follow our own "brilliant" vision of how something should go, or do we simply feel empathy for the group dynamic and subtly help it to bloom?
Over the years and before a huge variety of ensembles that I've stood in front of, I have been all of the above. Perhaps a palette is needed due to the incredibly diverse levels that one deals with in the music world.
Sigh. The search continues. How closely it resembles political systems. The question that I have been grappling lately is: a conductor-less ensemble (including chamber music groups.). Does it represent communism in it's best form (one in which everybody pulls their own weight before it descends into lethargic "hangmat" socialism), or is it truly a democracy?
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Hebe de Champeaux
conductor, mezzo-soprano, violinist, composer