The Conductor (an imperfect preaching analogy from a lunchtime recital)

Of course everybody here already knows the score. These notes and nuances are part of the fabric of what has been learned and played and practiced for generations. But with all of this familiarity there remains the expectation of something fresh, and living, and new, to come from sounding it all again.
The discordant notes seeking pitch ebb to silence. The conductor stands before the hall, back turned on the world, his manuscript the effective bridge between him and the waiting orchestra. The silence swells beneath the baton before bursting into overture, the combined force of each part building and cascading now, the whole musical body finding its flow and fullness in the shared notes.
There is no dispassion or irony here, no cool intellectualism or scholarly distance. The conductor knows the background, can plot the biography of a Haydn or a Schubert, has spent time in the grain and history of the work before him, has a good sense of the life situation that has brought this piece to birth. But all of this he now wears lightly, this moment is not one of pure academia, but applied scholarship, the studied art of the immediate and the extemporary.
He has mastered the score so that he can now be mastered by it, and its flow is now working its way through him. His every movement pulses with the contours of this piece, an arm which carries the sweep of the sonata, a movement of his shoulder sends and receives the punctuation of the horn, a trembling palm the thunderous drama of the drum. Everyone has the manuscript before them, can see for themselves the lay of the land, but he brings them to it, and carries them through it, and reminds them of their location in this unfolding drama. Everything here is at once objective and subjective, not a note will be missed, the fine tuning of the Master’s composition will be honoured in every detail, but it is a living thing, “felt along the heart”, pulsing with life and joy and resonance. Tabulation and emancipation are married here, there is strict adherence, and yet an applied confidence that this base line allows each to be reached, enabled, enlivened to play their part. 
He is the conductor in every sense, being directed by the music which transcends him, and channeling this now for those who keep their eye on him. They are all part of something bigger than themselves, and few will leave this place with the movements of the conductor in their minds. Strains of melody and majesty will play through them all in the hours and days to come, the organic life of the text now has voice and application, the received has been realised, the latent energy of the music now voiced in a way which can be applied and carried and lived.

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