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Chris Zimmerman, Conductor

I’m a pathetic, vain son of a bitch. Now that I can’t run all the time because I broke both of my ankles, I worry about gaining weight. When you look at someone that’s obese, do you think, “Oh you poor person.” Do you pity them? Disrespect them? Or assume it’s inherited and there’s no judgement?

I’m a conductor which must mean I’m a leader. I’m more aware of this responsibility as I get older. How much of the way the orchestra sounds is my responsibility? A result of the weight I carry? Is the ongoing quality of the orchestra I lead just a product? Is it just play in tune, and play together? Or am I also responsible for the morale of the players?I never used to worry about their morale. Now I do.

I don’t necessarily bear all the weight of the players, but the effectiveness of leadership has less to do with preparing every note and communicating every note. There is an emotional experience that I am responsible for that goes beyond the music. I’m not their nanny, but the older I get the more responsibility I feel for their environment.

The conductors of yore behaved like wankers. Behind the scenes, they’d be patronizing, and treat the orchestra members like children. There was distance. Now unions create an us versus them experience. It’s very corporate.


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