The Maestro

The Maestro

concert black tuxedo with tails, perfect attire,
baton hand for grammar (tempo, dynamics,
articulation) and the other hand guides poetry,

true ear for sound and eye for detail,
both slave and master of the composition –
favouring and fighting the arrangement,

shaping the sound of the ensemble,
crescendo, diminuendo, staccato, legato,
nuances of phrasing and expression,

dramatic language of the body for dialogue
between conductor and musicians,
cueing entrances with gesture or look,

he is leader but they are one, in group vulnerability,
a shoal of fish, morphing in concert
with fear feeding the energy of the form,

but the maestro stamps his signature to the performance,
standing naked to the spectators,
exposed yet ecstatic with the truth.


‘The art of conducting requires a longer learning process than almost any other human activity, and most of it is done whilst feeling you have no clothes on!’

‘In a nutshell, the baton hand is for the grammar and the other is for the poetry of the music.’

quotes by Peter Stark

Note: This is a poem in my sensory professions series – I have done the perfumer, the artist (a poem with fishy fish), the artist (a poem with fleurs), the sculptor, the floral artist, and the wine connoisseur.

20 thoughts on “The Maestro

  1. When do we get to see one about the chemist (the laboratory chemist, that is, not the one in the pharmacy – though you could do that one too – it would not be the same).

    Or the biologist.

    I know you know the saying “if it smells, it is chemistry; if it is green and slimy it is biology; if it doesn’t work, it is physics.”

    You could also add astronaut, in honour of the final Atlantis flight.

    I’m not telling you what to do or anything, no way, not me, I’m not bossy.


    1. Bwahahaha – never bossy d – great suggestions but I may find doing a chemist poem a touch difficult (I wonder would smell or sight be the greatest sense for a chemist, or maybe some other one entirely πŸ˜‰ – you would have to advise me. I think astronaut is a stroke of genius (and very timely) but would need a lot of research – always wanted to be an astronaut (but also wanted to be a conductor and a …). Do you watch The Big Bang Theory d – Sheldon would object to your ‘if it doesn’t work, it is physics’ – if you don’t, I think you would love it.

  2. Some conductors would be more interesting if they were naked!
    Seriously, loved the line “a shoal of fish, morphing in concert”. That is how it must be.

  3. Really hadn’t thought of the condutor in such terms before….but you poem brought back flash memories of conductors I have seen….re-evaluating them now. πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks Maxine – I got that idea also from Peter Stark who says ‘In a nutshell, the baton hand is for the grammar and the other is for the poetry of the music.’ – I should have put that in the post before (acknowledge your sources as McPaulus would have said) – I love it (the technical (grammer is the term they use in conducting) versus the less defined aspect of music) – very similar to poetry.

    1. Thanks Martin πŸ™‚ I was tossing with a bird metaphor but went for a walk down the beach and ‘a shoal of fish’ popped into my head – haha πŸ˜‰ I was also thinking of the school of fish in the movie ‘Nemo’ that changes shape to communicate.

  4. Fantastic Gabe, I remember when I was younger thinking that conducting was the easiest job in the orchestra. Now I know it isn’t. Like Graham said this poem as a wonderful flow, I had strings and cymbals in my head as I read.

    1. I used to think that too Mark – haha – you just have to twirl your hands in the air (who hasn’t done that, mucking about – pretending to be a conductor πŸ˜‰ ).

  5. I love this poem. You have got right under the skin of the maestro and I love the thought of the orchestra as ONE. as of course it is! Your play on words is very good and there is a little sense of humour peeping out too. Anyone who exposes his/her talent knows just how naked he feels!

  6. This is marvellous, Gabrielle. I love all the percussion…sion sounds in it – they are like symphonic punctuation. And also the parallel meaning to the art of writing – “but the maestro stamps his signature to the performance” – the same can be said of a masterful writer.

    When I’ve met my deadline today, I am going to (glass of wine in hand) read the rest of your sensory professions series (perhaps accompanied by a bit of cheese πŸ™‚

  7. You have captured the passion and persistence needed to conduct, which is like mastering the most technical aspects of dance and musicianship combined. And you have used diminuendo – one of my favourite musical terms that not everyone dares to say aloud unless they are well stocked with brut champagne and Gitanes. ‘Diminuendo’ – rolls off the tongue like caramelised butter.

    I really like the image of the orchestra as a shoal of fish, their vulnerability and fear at being able to take direction properly. I have often thought that orchestras are fuelled by a certain level of anxiety.

    Excellent, Gabrielle. A pleasure to read!

    1. Thanks Selma – you get 5/5 too πŸ™‚ ‘caramelised butter’ – exactly – I am a big fan of Italian words. The orchestra does have an element of anxiety and you can feel it when they are warming up – the cacophony of sounds on tuning etc., has a grating angst to it.

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