I’ve finally succumbed to watching reality TV! Tuesday saw the first of Maestro in which eight celebrities compete for the chance to conduct a live orchestra in Hyde Park on the Last Night of the Proms. They soon found out that it's no easy thing to conduct an orchestra and I have to say it was fairly compelling viewing.
Initially I struggled with the fact that many of the competitors were unable to read music which is foundational. I managed to overcome this, just about, as it became increasingly clear that conducting was more than just waving a stick to keep time or not.
The first outing of the totally inexperienced ‘conductors’ was mostly painful in the extreme. The process of acquiring some basic skills through the involvement of personal mentors and group experience was fascinating and continued to provide entertainment. When it came to the first performance before an audience, it was at times hysterically funny, an experience shared by the judges, mentors, audience and orchestra alike.
If I keep with it, and I’ll certainly watch next week, it'll be interesting to see who wins. Goldie was the most convincing and showed some musicianship and authority. Jane Asher was pretty good. Sue Perkins delivered. Peter Snow was a total disaster in a thoroughly good-natured way and was dismissed, but it was a close contest with the Blur musician Alex James, whose intake of breath before the down-beat of his piece was probably the high point of the programme.
The BBC Concert Orchestra seemed to be having fun and did brilliantly under the circumstances.