In today’s Video of the Day, maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin gives us a crash course in orchestral conducting, describing his process. He starts with the basic hand position for the baton, which prioritizes clarity of movement above all else. Eschewing the baton, Nézet-Séguin discusses the merits of baton-less conducting, which allows for more flexibility in both hands; with a baton a conductor only has her left hand to shape the music. With rehearsal excerpts from Verdi’s ubiquitous Requiem, Nézet-Séguin demonstrates this practice in action.
At 1:12, Nézet-Séguin describes the rather simple “code” of orchestral conducting, or the basic signals that are universal for all conductors (certainly a necessity when conductors, guest conductors, and performance forces are constantly changing). “Honestly the code that is common to every conductor is not very complicated. It has to do with how to beat time,” says Nézet-Séguin, counting beats. “Louder is bigger gestures. Softer is smaller gestures.”
“All the rest is very personal to each conductor.” The most important aspect of this personalization, as he explains, is the ability to communicate the particularities of the score within the conductor’s own vernacular without saying a word.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Orchestre Métropolitain in a Carte Blanche concert August 4, 7:30PM at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau to close out this season’s Concerts Populaires de Montréal. The following day, they will perform Dvorak’s 8th Symphony on top of Mont Royal in a free outdoor concert.