by Eustaquio Santimano

We Can Do Without a Conductor – Why Society Needs Less Leadership and More Social Resilience

by Augusto Cuginotti

I went to listen to Schubert’s “Tragic” Symphony this week in a local music festival here in the UK. Before the beginning of the play, one of the violinists, Timoti, came to tell us that no one would be standing in the centre of the room – they play without a conductor.

Cohesion – Hierarchy – Democracy

Even though I’m far from being a music expert, it was obvious the high level of communication between the musicians during the performance, a beautiful movement of body, eyes, vibrations. Sometimes there was a feeling that the first violin was the reference in maintaining tempo, but the looks and connections did seem to flow between everyone.

Musicians stayed after the performance to talk to the audience and answer some questions. When someone asked about how decisions are made in an orchestra without a conductor, the answer was: democratically. And went on: but democracy based on the good ideas that come, ideas that can be shared by everyone and that are drawn from the musical text itself.

It was interesting also to hear that equality does not mean that there is no hierarchy of instruments as in any other orchestra, but could mean hierarchy is and instrument of collective cohesion rather than a display of difference in value.

The group works hard in rehearsing and performs just one piece per concert. I assume that playing without a conductor would be much harder if many pieces had to be prepared and just not enough playing together could happen – a conductor would then support the cohesion of music instead of a patchwork of instruments.

On the other hand, by choosing to work in one piece and to interpret the music as a group, the diversity of musical worlds generated a collective identity that would be impossible for an individual to achieve.

Besides, a group with many centres and worlds is more resilient than a centralised one, it can see and feel more of the music than a single person. The orchestra also makes an active invitation for the audience to be part of this diversity – the last surprise of the concert was the whole orchestra coming down the stage to play around us – I could listen to a cello in front of me and surrounded by the other instruments as if I’d be there playing with them – and indeed I was, in a way.

I liked the group for their boldness to experiment and their passion for live music. You can learn more about them (and maybe get to listen in the future) visiting Spira Mirabilis.

We Can Do Without a Conductor

I appreciate maestros and conductors and believe that a real maestro is the one that can see himself/herself as of the elements of the group rather than the one that conducts. I’ve seen some excellent maestros in action – in music and beyond – and would like to see more.

What I saw this week was a group that seemed more resilient and lively than an ordinary orchestra. It was free and relational but at the same time committed by the boundaries of world-class classical music.

I think our society can do without a conductor. It is slower, requires patience and more collective work, but resilience and community remains while conductors and leaders go.

Next page shows some interesting videos I have received as a contribution to this article. Watch them here >>

Orpheus Music meets Business

Thanks to @DaniloChaib

Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors

Thanks to @jamiebillingham and @johnsenwsu