Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Finding a young conductor

Wed Feb 11 2009

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Ok, time to fess up. When we started recruiting for the new Melgaard Young Conductor last year I asked my colleague Ceri if she’d mind writing about the process so that we could feature it on our website. She duly did this and then I duly never got around to putting it on our website. (sorry Ceri…)

However now we have our shiny new blog doing this sort of thing is so much easier. So here is Ceri’s Young Conductor diary from last year. We’ve just started the whole process again ready for the 2009-2010 season so we’ll post updates from this years process too.

William Norris, Marketing Director

1. 14th January 08 The adverts go live, and the letters go out.

Wow, we’ve finally got here…. After what feels like yonks of discussion, planning, and fundraising we have commenced our search for a Young Conductor. A very exciting moment as the application pack gets uploaded onto the website, and I bombard lots of UK & European music colleges, and even some across the pond in an attempt to spread the word as far and as wide as possible. It’s really difficult to tell at this stage how many applications we might received – Are we being too over confident if we aim for 50? I would like to think we can make it to 30!

2. Week 1 – 21st Jan 08

It’s been a slow start (but then musicians are notorious for leaving things to the last minute). I’ve had a couple of phone calls and e-mails from potential applicants, mainly to check the application process. Obviously the clear instructions in the pack are too difficult to understand… Not any applications as such, but as the week progresses the e-mail enquiries pick up speed, and the phone calls to my direct number…And the mispronouncing of my name. Apparently one conductor was quite shocked to discover I was not in fact a Mr.

3. Week 2 – 28th Jan 08

Hurrah, the first application arrives, and then another and then another. Although I seem to spend most of this week telling applicants that its all very well having glowing press reviews, but if they are in Russian, Swedish, German, Arabic or [insert language of your choice, but not English] we wont be able to interpret them. Must remember to make this clearer on the application pack for next year!

However am very impressed that some applications are including links to files uploaded onto youtube for their audio component of their application. Very 21st century!

4. Week 3 – 4th Feb 08

Start to process the applications in order to send them to the panel. In order to reduce the amount of tree-wastage printing out the applications for the panel we are only sending them by e-mail. Each application is being turned into a PDF file and then attached to a separate e-mail. Gosh, this is going to take some time to achieve!

Not helped by the fact that conductors left right and centre have not read the instructions properly and are sending me their applications by post. Groan. Good job we have a scanner…

5. Week 4 – 11th Feb 08

3 day holiday to Dublin at the start of the week. I wonder what will be sitting in my inbox on my return…

Wow, was not expecting this. Return to work (on Valentines Day would you believe!) to the biggest stack of post I have ever received on a single office day. It takes me nearly 2 days to read and PDF all the e-mail applications, open all the padded envelopes and log all the applications on the spreadsheet. I think we have about 80 applications now, I speak to one of the panel members on the phone and they are chuffed.

6. Week 5 – 18th Feb 08

Today is the deadline. Arrive at work on Monday morning to another huge deluge of post and e-mails from young conductors. After logging them all on my trusty spreadsheet and working out what it missing from various applicants I decide to send on as many to the panel as possible so they can make a start on reading them through – they have a big job ahead. Get about 70 applications off, before I’ve crashed and overloaded their inboxes. Whoops. I think burning them onto CD might be better, and so towards the end of the week once a few more bits and pieces have dribbled in I burn all 128 applications onto a CD and send them off. Good luck to the panel! I’m looking forward to hearing who they choose!

Ceri Jones, Projects Manager

Postscript: After the panel had whittled the list down to 5 conductors we then held an audition day, where each conductor rehearsed and conducted the OAE in front of the panel and Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski. After much deliberation Philipp von Steinaecker was selected as the Melgaard Young Conductor 2008-2009. Philipp has since worked with us on several projects – hopefully we’ll get him to write something here sometime.

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