John Man, whose business card lists at least eight musical professions, recently conducted an orchestral concert for his personal galley of minions. During one of the rehearsals, Man suddenly realised that he had run out of time without having worked on all of the repertoire.
“I hit upon an ingenious solution,” said Man. “I decided to ask the orchestra if we could just go over time, by asking them politely. Very politely.”
Man was happy that he got what he wanted, and that no one in the orchestra complained. “That’s an approach I often take in life,” he said. “If someone does not clearly say no, that means you should just go right ahead with taking whatever it is you want from them.”
Representatives of the orchestra at first thought it was unreasonable for Man to have requested the extra time, but soon remembered that Man had in fact arrived thirty minutes late for the rehearsal, so his request was completely logical. “In that sense, he wasn’t really asking for extra time at all,” said Sally McDally. “It wasn’t his fault he slept through his alarm.”
Man enjoyed using the limited rehearsal time to explain how much he knew about the pieces and what string techniques he enjoyed naming. “Sure, there might have been an entire Mozart symphony on the program which we didn’t rehearse at all,” he said, “but at least I was able to impress everyone with my knowledge of Zelenka’s middle period.”
Man hopes to dispel the myth that conductors only go over time when they have not planned their rehearsals carefully. “I actually planned the rehearsal very carefully,” he said. “It just throws me when I have to be at the venue by a certain time or know the repertoire very well or give the musicians a break once every three to five hours.”