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As the conductor sees it

By Harry Ellis Dickson / December 18, 1985



WEARING two hats as I do as player and occasional conductor presents some problems. No matter how affable, how comradely, how unpretentious I try to be with my colleagues, I am looked upon with suspicion. I am on the ``other side.'' I am a potential enemy. As a member of the orchestra I find myself in the awkward position of being my own enemy -- and hating myself for it. I am also becoming quite paranoid and whenever I conduct the orchestra, I tend to become more so. My dearest colleagues see m to become metamor-phosed into snarling beasts if I as much as glance at them, even if my glance is a complimentary one. One night while I was conducting the Pops in a piano concerto, Pat Cardillo, our illustrious first clarinetist, missed an entrance. I tried to convey by a friendly glance that it could happen to anyone, but afterwards he not only blamed me for his mistake, but insisted I tried to belittle him. No amount of denial on my part would placate him. Whenever I am scheduled to conduct, at least a half-dozen members will jokingly ask me for the night off. On the night of the Marciano-Walcott fight, I excused more than half the orchestra! One of my colleagues has hated me for years because I dared to be upset when, an hour before a concert, he telephoned to say he had just heard of the death of an aunt in Paris two days earlier, and he was too upset to play. Another colleague, a violinist, refuses to use vibrato unless I pay him fi fty cents for each concert. Matt Ruggiero, bassoonist, after we had been stoned at a Franklin Park concert, came to me and said, ``No wonder they threw stones. You didn't make the repeat in the first movement of the symphony!''

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