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Programme 1 summary
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BRB has three conductors.

Although most of the audience can't see him or her, one of the most important people performing is the conductor of the orchestra.

When he comes on, he will wait for a the go-ahead to start from stage management (via a box with red and green lights on his music stand). In front of him he has a 'full score' - a copy of the music for the ballet including everything every instrument has to play, and in which he has written his own notes about the music and the dance. Romeo and Juliet includes such a large quantity of music that this score comes in three volumes - one for each act!

The reason that the conductor is so vital is because he sets the speed of the music for the whole performance. He also starts and stops it, speeds it up (accelerando), slows it down (ritenuto), and decides how long held chords and silences need to be. He does this by moving his baton at the appropriate speed in a pattern that corresponds to the number of beats (i.e. three or four per bar) in the music. He also tries to communicate to the orchestra the manner in which the music should be performed, using his hands, baton and body.

The conductor stands on a podium so that the dancers can also see him from the stage. As well as cueing the orchestra, he will cue the dancers. Different dancers may like different sections of the ballet at different speeds, and the conductor tries to accommodate them.

When creating a new ballet, it is quite common for a choreographer to want the speed of a piece of music to be faster or slower than it is normally heard. This is particularly the case if the music was originally written for the concert hall, rather than for a ballet. The conductor needs to get used to the speed and also know the dance that goes with the music well. To help this, he will attend some of the piano rehearsals in the studio, and stage rehearsals, so he can learn the ballet.

BRB's conductors share the responsibility for conducting the performances amongst themselves, but sometimes guest conductors are needed if there are too many performances. These are normally experienced ballet conductors who are contracted by the orchestra on a short-term basis.

To learn more about BRB's conductors (the Music Director, Principal Conductor and Conductor), follow the link here and click on their names.



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