Conductor/MD Performing

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by RJMorris, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. RJMorris

    RJMorris Member

    Is it unusual, unheard of, or otherwise for the conductor/MD to perform (as in solo) on a concert. How does the band view this? Is this a positive image for the audience to see the conductor playing? How often does it happen? Many thanks.
  2. The Cornet King

    The Cornet King Active Member

    I've only done 1 concert in which our MD has performed.
    One of our players (from my old band) was giving a lecture on the history of Brass bands, and he and the conductor demonstrated Ida and Dot (because the conductor was the only guy who could play it!!!)

    He was/is one hell of a player (Rob Collinson is his name) and it was great to hear him play. :D
  3. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    I've actually been thinking about this very topic lately with my band.

    We're going on tour to Germany in the summer and I've been trying to get an early start on some novelty items for it. I've considered a few things, some of which involve me getting my bone out at some point or another, here's a few examples I've mulled over

    joining the trombone rank on Hot Toddy (Write another line) while my flugel player conducts, him turning round tro do the solo in the middle.

    Doing a duetty type novelty thing between myself and the top trom player on Acrobat. (Having a conductor v Soloist Battle, until I walk off in disgust, coming back with my bone to duet to the end, sounds complicated, lol)

    And taking the impro solo in 1st mov of "Spiritual Sounds" (Great piece, I'd thoroughly recommend it)

    I think it's possible, and would probably add a little something to a concert if done correctly, it's also good to show the band you CAN actually play an instrument, half the time the band don't even know what instrument the MD plays :?
  4. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I saw James Watson play the trumpet and conduct with Black Dyke at Carnegie Hall; Phil Smith (tpt. NY Philharmonic) also when he was conductor of Montclair Citadel Band, but only rarely. I seem to remember Ray Farr doing a tpt. break when he was conductor of Chalk Farm SA Band quite a few years ago.
  5. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Imho its fine for one-offs, but thats about it. I remember James Watson doing solos with Dyke at several concerts (didn't he play on some of their cds too?) and the first couple of times it was cool, but then imo it got old very quickly - especially considering the quality of players in the band he could have been showing off instead.
  6. i remember when i was in hebden bridge junior band, brian robinson used 2 play cherry pink(and appleblossom while) and sugar blues on his trumpet, that sounded brilliant as both backin parts r fairly easy, it always went down really well with the audiences
  7. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    My teacher, when he conducted Gladstone, used to do solos a fair bit. He was a champion musician, well respected, and always played impressively. His actsd included Softly as I leave You, Varied Mood, Laughing Trombone, and Grandfathers Clock (with all the variations done on different instruments!!)
  8. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    We've had this a couple of times with the National Capital Band. When Campbell Robinson was conductor, he often sang solos in concerts, sometimes with the band accompanying and sometimes with piano backing. The deputy bandmaster would conduct.

    When Stephen Bulla was the bandmaster of the NCB, we sometimes had occasions when he would play piano solos with the band.
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    When Steve Williams conducted Plymouth Band (now Soundhouse Brass) he played the cornet solo in "Swingtime Religion"... outstanding!
  10. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Why not, if the conductor is a great player then go for it. If the audience like it you cant go wrong and it beats paying for quality guest soloists if your band is further down the sections!
  11. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    The first concert I ever did with a brass band the conductor did a solo. Spanish eyes I think. I thought this kind of thing was fairly normal so was suprised to find that a lot of the band were very annoyed at this.

    Their attitude seemed to be that he was showing off, a kind of 'I play in the championship section, look how much better I am than the third section blowers behind me'. Personally I think this was a bit paranoid, but a conductor does need to be careful before thinking about doing a solo, especially if this means that promising players in the band are denied the chance to do a solo because of this.
  12. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    It seemed to work quite well with Dyke when James Watson was featured in some of their big band items, where it seemed quite natural for him to lead, trumpet in hand, and solo in the middle.

    The only time it's happened with a band I've been in was at Cambridge Heath, when we brought Ray Bowes in as guest conductor, enabling Stewart to play end man, including being featured on "Life's Pageant".
  13. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    Personally I don't like seeing a MD perform. When I have seen a MD play, I always get the feeling that he is trying to show how much better than the band he is. I could be wrong, but that's the feeling that I get.
    The band plays, the MD conducts and sometimes comperes. End of story for me.
  14. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Hear hear Kev!

    If I see an MD doing the solos it suggests to me either that the bands "cornermen" aren't up to it, in which case it should be worked on not covered up; OR that the MD doesn't think their players are up to it, and thats a whole different can of worms. Either way, I just think it sends the wrong message about the players abilitites and makes the MD look like a big show off.

    But hey, thats just my opinion :wink:
  15. W.Rimmer

    W.Rimmer Member

    I can think of a few conductors (outside of brass bands) who should be MADE to play something in front of the musicians they direct. I expect it would be rather revealing.
    Ray Farr played some jazzy solo trumpet stuff when I was with Newham many years ago. None of us could have got near the style (he was in the Radio Orchestra at the time) and it was a breath of fresh air. Audiences liked it.

  16. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    It really depends on whether the conductor is playing a full solo or not, and whether the other cornermen get a chance to stand up in the middle of the concert too. I would never play a full solo with the band I conduct, I would feel that would be too much, especially as I have a few good cornermen/women as it is. But I would add a bit in just for the novelty value and with the audience in mind. I don't think that is bigheaded, just makes use of everything the band has to offer, and if the band don't mind, then where's the harm?

    TIMBONE Active Member

    conducting and performing

    When I was MD for the Trafford Youth Wind Orchestra, and also the North Cheshire Concert Band, I used to play a trombone solo in "New Baroque Suite" by Ted Huggins. In the slow movement, (a 'bluesy' movemenet), I used to start the band off, then while the drummer held the tempo, I picked up my trombone and improvised a solo. I also played a duet with my son, (North Cheshire Concert Band), Ave Maria by Gounod. When the NCCB were without a drummer one Summer, I played drums in 'up-tempo' numbers, leading the band from the drum stool!
  18. Di B

    Di B Member

    It depends on a few things for me...

    First of all, why does the conductor wish to play a solo? Is it purely to show off in front of both audience and band or is it to do something fun/extroadinary that will be fun for the audience to watch? Conductors have to be very honest answering this!! :wink:

    I think if a conductor plays a solo INSTEAD of a corner chair player, than that isn't on. This is certainly the case if the corner player is not advised privately in the first instance on what is going to happen!

    Duets/Trios/comedy performances I am all for and it can show that a conductor can play. To me this shows that the conductor is as able as his band, but it doesn't demean anyones status in the band either.

    If Championship section band conductors do a regular soloist spot then I would have thought that the band should sack their conductor and reinstate him as a principle player! :lol:

    Of course, it goes without saying really, that a good conductor isn't necessarily a good player and vice versa, so maybe the conductors who play solo's on a regular basis are trying to hide their conducting skills?! :lol:
  19. James McFadyen

    James McFadyen New Member

    They say if you can't play you should conduct, but if you can't conduct either, you should Adjudicate. An Adjudicator said that at a contest about 4 or 5 years ago. :wink: I'm guessing if you can't adjudicate, you should compose ;)

    TIMBONE Active Member

    conductors playing

    It is a matter of 'horses for courses' A band plays for an audience, not for itself, so an element of surprise and variety is entertaining. My own personal contributions mentioned previously have a purpose. 1. playing the improvisation in the "Huggins" piece was because I can improvise, and it looked good when the conductor put down his baton, picked up a trombone, and started playing, (my first trombone player also had a solo in those concerts, no 'upstaging', it was a different style, the slow movement of the Rimsky Korsakov trom concerto). 2. When I played a duet with my son, it was pure entertainment, the 'Father & Son' thing, he was a 12 year old trumpet player at the time, the band was conducted by our assistant MD, which was nice for him also. 3. When I 'fronted' on drums, it was because we were temporarily without a drummer, and you can't really play things like Glen Miller or Big Band Classics without drums.