Score-study is central and fundamental to the philosophy and experience of the Conductors Retreat at Medomak. Score-study plays a key role in all aspects of the conductor's art, craft, and career. Through score-study, conductors gain understanding that is the source of the intentions and ideas that will ultimately shape their rehearsals and performances, and the nature of their communication with the listener. One important goal of score-study is to build a fully formed, multi-dimensional image of the work-- to have it in one's "inner ear." One further step in making the conductor's work authentic and communicative is to let the music resonate in the spirit and body. The Conductors Retreat experience provides the tools, time, and setting to do the intellectual, musical, and contemplative work of score-study.
Using the Socratic method, Kenneth Kiesler leads score-study sessions with the entire group of conductors. There are several sessions during the first few days and again later in the Retreat. Intensive work is done in small groups comprised of conductors at varying levels of experience and skill. The repertoire and the group shape the discussions. Many facets of the music are explored: harmony and melodic contour, counterpoint and polyphony, tempo, dynamics, articulation, orchestration, bowings, text, meaning and subtext, the spirit and affect, etc. Often the conversation leads to discussion of a work's historical milieu, its influences and sources, philosophy or art or theology or architecture.
Participants learn to approach the score by asking certain questions and considering the answers to those questions. Participants are encouraged to consider what seem to be details, to look at the formal structure of entire works, and to gain insight by looking "into" the score for what may not be explicitly written. Score-study is not clinical, academic work, rather a pathway to understanding the creative impulses of the human spirit.
Score-study is the conductor's privilege and responsibility. It's a life-long task, and the process can be expected to mature with experience. The Conductors Retreat at Medomak can help open a door to score-study that is meaningful, effective, and potentially transformative to the conductor's life-work.
Kenneth Kiesler leads the score-study sessions. In addition, private score-study advice and coaching is offered by Steven Whiting and Adrian Slywotzky.