Oundjian on conductors and conducting

Posted on: February 14, 2014

For the ongoing “A Drink with…” column in Friday’s (2/14) Toronto Star, Eric Veillette interviews Peter Oundjian, music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. “Question: I’m assuming conducting is something that comes later in one’s career, after they’ve developed a deep understanding of the instruments? Oundjian: What you say is absolutely right and should be obeyed as principle. But technology has made it possible to learn how to conduct much more quickly, so we see younger conductors nowadays. You can watch videos of people conducting, film yourself, observe your movements. That’s something that wouldn’t have been possible decades ago. Question: Is there a drawback to that? Oundjian: It’s a little bit the other way around. Some conductors never develop a deep understanding of other instruments. The motion of being a conductor comes very soon, but the intellectual understanding of what it is, the deep knowledge of musical phrases, that comes later. Question: Which conductors inspired you? Oundjian: … the first impression was actually Benjamin Britten, who himself was a very fine conductor. When I was a little kid he conducted my school choir. …There are many wonderful conductors and a lot to be learned from them, but in the end everyone is unique because it’s your own musical energy and your own musical personality that comes through your motions.”

Posted February 14, 2014