Orchestralist: MSO Music Director Search

MSO Music Director Search

WANTED: Music director for major symphony orchestra (hereinafter referred to as the MSO).

The MSO is seeking a conductor at the highest international level, meaning that he must already hold a minimum of two other time-consuming and energy-sapping positions, preferably each on a different continent. Because experience is paramount, and because the search committee is petrified at the prospect of trying to assess the talents of younger conductors, the MSO will give strong preference to candidates who are at least fifty years of age, unless Simon Rattle becomes available. Female candidates are invited to apply for this position, with the understanding that the chances of a woman actually being hired are about the same as the chances of John Ashcroft being invited to Gloria Steinem's house for dinner.

Since the MSO is an American institution and deeply proud of its place in our national cultural life, American conductors will be grudgingly considered for this position. American applicants are strongly encouraged to have either been born abroad or to have worked in Europe for most of their careers, so as to impart to clueless board members a reassuringly cosmopolitan air. Special consideration will be given to foreign candidates with charming accents.

All applicants must demonstrate a command of, and an overwhelming personal preference for, the tried-and-true standard orchestral repertoire. At the same time they must be able to feign enough interest in contemporary music to cash in on any big-ticket grant opportunities. Relatedly, the successful candidate will take no meaningful position with respect to the question of revitalizing or modifying in any way the concert experience itself, although he will from time to time be expected to say that this is an interesting idea that should be explored.

The MSO will require the new music director to spend a minimum number of weeks with the orchestra. Ideally that number will be large enough to permit him to memorize the name of the doorman at his apartment building. Also the address of his apartment building. Off the podium, the new music director will be expected to appear at a reasonable number of achingly stiff post-concert receptions, and occasionally even dine with a small group of addled elderly donors. The music director will also be encouraged to be available to the media, and to work into all interviews the phrase, ...a very special privilege for me to make music with this world-class ensemble.

The salary of the new music director shall be commensurate with whatever grotesquely bloated and indefensible fees he currently pulls down. As a matter of policy, and to look good in the trades, the MSO guarantees to match the applicant's highest current salary plus 20 percent.

To help the search committee evaluate billboard and album-cover potential, each applicant is asked to forward an 8-by-10 color glossy of himself wearing either: (a) a full-length overcoat fashioned of buttery soft Napa leather; or (b) a comfortable Eddie Bauer flannel shirt and some jeans.

The MSO will not consider any applicants whose materials arrive after the published deadline, except for the applications of really desirable candidates, or certain veteran journeymen who might suddenly be vaulted into the running if the early phases of the search yield basically nothing. The search committee's decision will be made within the next year, or two at the most, and will be announced in irritating increments via newspaper articles based on incomplete information leaked to local critics.

Submitted by Justin Locke

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