Sep 20, 2017
Brett Mitchell is the Music Director of the
Colorado Symphony. He discusses leadership and teamwork, and how
the best orchestras don’t just play with
each other… they play for each other. He
considers trust to be the first step to leadership and shares his
philosophy and methods. He talks about the discipline of music, and
how music theory can inform innovation, leadership and
[2:51] As a young music director, Brett works consciously at
[4:29] Brett’s last position was with the Cleveland Orchestra,
one of America’s Big Five orchestras. He started there in awe of
the training and skill of the elite musicians. Brett learned that
the better the orchestra, the more they want to be led. The
musicians make music with each other and the conductor helps guide
them, but does not dictate to them. The conductor is the
arbiter of taste.
[10:06] Leonard Bernstein did a video with the Vienna
Philharmonic, conducting them with his facial expressions alone in
supreme trust and joy. Brett attributes his own career to the path
Leonard Bernstein blazed for American orchestral conductors.
[16:20] The Conductor leads an orchestra; the Music
Director is responsible for the artistic side; the
Executive Director is responsible for the business side;
the Maestro is a teacher. Brett studies the score, learns
everybody’s part, listens to the orchestra, teaches the orchestra
what the composer is saying through the score, and guides them
through the execution of the score.
[26:38] John Williams’ film scores gave Brett the inspiration to
study composition. Brett discusses how he and the staff at Public
Radio Station WCLV happened to create the award-winning documentary
on John Williams’ Star Wars movie scores, The Score
[34:33] Brett is also on a guest conductor series. Trust comes
from being reliable, getting right to work, showing you are
prepared, and being authentic. The goal is not a flawless
performance, but a performance as close as humanly possible to
being flawless with passion. Beethoven said a wrong note is
nothing, but to play without passion is inexcusable.
[43:00] Brett talks about dealing with mistakes during a
performance. The conductor needs to find the mistakes that will not
fix themselves, and correct and direct for them.