Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Vision-thing.


Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, Director

There has been a considerable push by web pundits who write about music and art to implore the critics of the arts at papers like the NYT and WP to get out of the city and into the countryside. The effort is to encourage these writers to recognize the wealth of artistic endeavors flourishing in the "hinterlands." One critic seems to have taken up the challenge. The New Yorker music critic, Alex Ross did "three orchestras, three cities, two days." His report is here.

I am a fan of this immersion method. The experience is exciting and an adventure. Ross candidly reports his genuine surprise at what he found. Which is satisfying. "Listening to America’s regional orchestras, you realize that the notion of a stratospheric orchestral √©lite is deceptive." I'll say! But my favorite line was one that really captures the dynamics of any ensemble effort.

Great performances can happen anytime skilled players respond with unusual fervor to a conductor whose vision is secure.

It is not just the generation and communication of a vision that is important. I was caught by the phrase about the conductor's vision at the end of the sentence: whose vision is secure. I have not heard those two words put together before, secure vision. I hadn't thought about it.

Ross did not say that skilled players respond to a conductor with vision. There's more to it; there is the vision that is anchored with a sense of security. One of the things this sense of security provides is freedom for the ensemble. They needn't wobble with the vagaries of the vision that is not held with confidence. In the case of the conductor whose vision is secure, anxiety must be reduced considerably. It is like having a mature and wise parent, rather than a young and uncertain parent who may behave with confidence, but whose sense of confidence is ungrounded, and all the children know it. In this case, it is difficult to act with freedom and ease in the presence of insecurity. The performance suffers.

This same idea may be applied to organizations of all natures and size. Without a leader whose vision is secure, the performance suffers.

1 comment:

Rodrigo said...
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