We formed the Conductor’s Academy because, having ourselves gone through the misery of trying to influence sound without really knowing how, we believe that most of the skills needed can be developed simply through access to the right information. Most significantly, we consider that the questions of gesture which so profoundly undermine the outcomes for so many conductors are merely a matter of mechanics which can be learned by any determined person with sufficient intellectual grasp and decent hand / eye coordination.
In 2017 we produced the 1st Audite International Conducting Competition in order to try to counteract what we perceive as a tendency in competitive conducting situations to focus on what is seen and what is said rather than the sounds actually produced. This tends to favour those who compensate for lack of technical skill through being overly energetic. It does so at the expense of those who may have significantly greater potential and / or skills, but who are often less overtly assertive, because they are uncomfortably aware that their musical ambitions remain out of the reach of their current capacity. This then impacts on their self-confidence in competition situations.
Allowing a screened jury to hear what could be achieved by conductors without allowing the possibility for verbal instruction of the musicians was a fascinating experiment, one which served only to convince us more that the way to assess the work of a conductor is – as with all musical performance – only through listening to the results. What it also taught us, however, is that there is a need for wider understanding of the real processes of hearing and the technical issues of aligning sound which are necessary to allow for genuinely artistic performance.
Since then, we have been trying to come up with a way to help as many people as possible to widen access to real professional expertise from which all participants can develop their skills and understanding – and to find a means to do so without charging any tuition fees.
With Audite 2023 we think we have achieved this. This project takes the form of a competitive masterclass, one which aims to provide a valuable opportunity for professional and musical development for all the participants – and with a method which retains active participation for all applicants right up to the end. This programme is fully funded and provided without tuition fees but in order to continue to provide it again in the future we need to raise funds. This is why we are seeking donations and registration fees from those who participate.
The process starts from an online class in April 2023, which will be followed by a series of selection stages. These will further develop understanding and capacity as well as to provide a basis for assessment of the skills needed for success at the following stage. The culmination of the process will be a public class for three conductors. This will not only provide a rehearsal and performance opportunity for those conductors but will also explore further the potential of gesture to impact what is heard and demonstrate the immediacy with which this is audible.
Perhaps the most novel aspect of this ground-breaking class-competition, however, is that that it builds on our experience with Audite 2017 by allowing all those conductors not selected to conduct the orchestra in subsequent stages to continue their active participation and learning: they will be able to vote in the selection process for subsequent stages, providing impartial assessment of the actual sounds produced. This means participation is active throughout, either through conducting or assessing the work of other conductors.