Not long ago, I had the luck to be visiting family when my dad took part in an interview rehearsal with a conductor candidate for one of the community choirs he sings in. I joined my dad in the baritone section and got to spend an evening singing music next to him – a rare treat.
The gentleman who led the rehearsal was qualified, confident, musical, and passionate. He did a fine job of displaying his skills and expressing himself in front of his “interview committee” of 40.
After the rehearsal, as I pondered the interview process, I concluded that all of that was less important than one thing: his vision.
There are many qualified musicians who could do the job. The one they should hire is the one whose vision coincides with theirs. The tenure of conductors in their choir averages just over two years – meaning choristers will last much longer than any conductor. What the group will be–and whether it will be a home they want to keep singing–is what they need to know.
Assuming the board has discussed their vision for the future, here are a couple questions they might pose to ensure that their conductor is a good match.
- Give us a sample program – what kinds of repertoire would you program? (And how does that compare to the board’s favorite past programs?)
- Why are we here? What is this choir’s purpose? (There are at dozens of varieties of community choir, all of value, ranging from social to orchestral to experimental. The conductor must want to lead the same type as the choir wants to be.)
- What does this choir look like in three years? (There are constants and changes in every choir over time, but the conductor’s goals for changes should match yours.)
Every conductor is going to have strengths and weaknesses, but in my opinion the most important places to look to ensure a positive match are in the area of vision.