There's no set formula to what makes a great conductor, says Alan Gilbert, the music director of the New York Philharmonic; it's an ineffable quality that you know when you see it. "It's like the duck," says Gilbert. "It's hard
to describe a duck, but when you see a duck you know it's a duck
because that's what a duck is. A great conductor is someone who can
work with musicians and stand in front of them and bring out the best in
them and create a musical experience that communicates to the
In his Big Think interview, Gilbert talks about the importance of preparation in keeping his mind focused during a long performance. "I like to go into a rehearsal or a concert knowing
that I know how it's going to go," he says. "Not that I know exactly how it will
play out or how it will feel musically or artistically, but I don't
allow myself to enter a situation without doing adequate preparation.
That means focusing beforehand but also creating the situation in which
it's possible to be 100% focused in the moment."
Gilbert also talks about the challenge of getting dozens of musicians to play as one, talking about the particular challenge of trying to get a orchestra back together after one musician (or more) falls out of sync. "If there are conflicting currents
onstage, then you have to make a choice," he says. "You have to either give in or
insist. For the other musicians onstage, if they sense two currents, if
they say... for example, if I show one thing and they hear a response
to that that is not in sync, then they have a dilemma; they have to
choose, 'Do I go with what I see from the conductor or do I go with what
I hear?'" Gilbert says he instructs his orchestra in those situations to continue following his lead precisely, so as to take away the element of question.
Sometimes even a facial tic by a conductor can affect how musicians play. Gilbert describes how he keeps his expressions in tune with the music and also gives a brief lesson on how a conductor uses the baton to guide a disparate orchestra.
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The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."
- A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
- In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
- The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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