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Not All Players Can Lead

October 09, 2000

There may be a stampede to the patent office by musicians who will lay claim to "conducting birthrights" if Gregory Maldonado's fuzzy idea of conducting is even remotely valid ("For Violinists-Turned-Conductors, It's About Serving the Music," Sept. 25).

Maldonado may be a superb musician, but that does not qualify him to mount a podium and pretend to conduct. Conducting is an art form that assumes knowledge of the score as just a first step. Conducting also requires the facility to create ever-changing physical movements that clarify contour, color, tension and release as defined by the composer. Only a fully formed baton technique can meet these requirements.

Earning the right to be called a conductor is achieved by concentrated study over a long period of time. When a conducting student learns to use a baton as skillfully as a violinist's bow, the creative possibilities are enhanced. Conducting may begin with a study of the music, but a cohesive performance also demands an ever-changing physical architecture to present the music to the musicians with clarity and creativity.

Without a fully developed, comprehensible conducting technique, a would-be conductor is forced to rely on the kindness of the musicians on the stage.

HAROLD FARBERMAN

Germantown, N.Y.

Farberman is former music director of the Oakland Symphony and author of "The Art of Conducting Technique" (Belwin-Mills, 1997).

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