Turning the orchestra towards the audience

Written by Andrew Druckenbrod on .

Hermann ScherchenFrom the curious side of things, I was reading an old book the other day by a largely forgotten conductor Hermann Scherchen (I have one of his discs, conducting Mahler). It's called "Handbook of Conducting" and basically is him laying the law down on how rehearsals should be run and music should sound and things like that. Here is a cool YouTube video of him running a rehearsal from a Vai Music music (Gentleman, would you have the kindness...).

Actually, it's too bad conductors don't do this these days. I supposed there isn't much of a market for that, but then again, there are blogs! In any case it would be neat to hear more, from the horse's mouth, conductors' views on music and orchestras from a technical level in the manner of book.

In any case, there was one particularly intriguing point he made, that it would be better for orchestras if instead of having the strings near the edge of the stage face each other (in the Pittsburgh Symphony's case, the first violins and the violas, but in some orchestras the cellos), that they should angle themselves toward the audience. It goes like this, where the dots are the two musicians and the slash representing their stands (yes, very high tech on my part).   


:::::::/   conductor   \:  \:  \:  \:  \:  \:  \:


Scherchen writes: "It is to be recommended that the violin's desks should not stand parallel with the sides of the conductor's desk; because, if so, the players sitting nearest to the audience will be looking away from the conductor and into the depths of the orchestra. Far better place the desks obliquely so that the conductor will stand well within every player's field of vision."

It sounds like a good idea, but I have never seen it done before, and neither has PSO concertmaster Andres Cardenes, whom I showed the book the other day. So, has anyone seen this? If so, do tell.

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