The gravity of my situation

Work loves work.

Since I set out on the road to being a full time free-lance conductor some years back, I’ve become exceptionally sensitive to the rhythms of work.

This experience and the careful study of my own situation now brings me to my new “special theory of the gravitational fields of stuff-to-do.”

This is the first law of the special theory of the gravitational fields of stuff-to-do:Work, that is, stuff-to-do that is directly related to one’s chosen field, exerts the strongest gravitational field around it. Likewise, the absence of work exerts an equal but opposite strength of anti-gravitational field around itself.

Therefore…. When one has work, one gets more work. The new work is attracted by the work one already has, so all incoming work attempts to be scheduled for the same days. When I first quite my university job, I only had 34 days of work in my calendar (my OES contract at the time) for the coming year. For the next couple of months, I had no calls, no enquiries of any kind. The anti-gravitational field of non-work was at full force.

Then, a friend asked if I would take over a charity concert for him. It didn’t pay, but it would be my first chance to conduct anything in Britain. I happily agreed. Within a week I had three more calls for gigs on the SAME DAY as the gravitational field around that single gig was so strong. Think of it, I had 330 free days in my calendar, and in a week I had four requests for the same day, and none of them could happen at other times.

Music can also exert funny gravitational fields of its own. As of the end of last season I had never conducted, covered or studied a work by Nielsen. I didn’t own any Nielsen scores. It was safe to say that in March of 2006, Nielsen was the most important composer I had never performed. I made up my mind to change that, and proposed several Nielsen pieces to several orchestras. In the end, it worked out that I would conduct the Helios Overture with the Oregon East Symphony in January 2007, and the Nielsen Flute Concerto with the Surrey Mozart Players this Saturday, September 30th.

What then were the odds that within less than two weeks of finalizing the SMP program for this week, I had a call from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales asking if I would do the same Nielsen Flute Concerto for them on October 3rd.  Not only had I never done a Nielsen piece before, nobody had ever suggested one to me before, and now I find I’m doing the same piece with two orchestras within 3 days….

I didn’t particularly seek any gigs for August this year so that Suzanne and I could have some time to ourselves, but I wouldn’t have cried if some fabulous band called me to fill in last minute at a Prom or something. No- the repellent force of non work held- not a single inquiry from anyone about anything in the entire month of August except for the first couple days of Kent County Youth Orchestra. Not even a turkey gig. Now, I have six programs to conduct, all with different orchestras, in different cities on two continents in 10 days. Not complaining, this is what it’s all about, but isn’t it just a little weird? Now I’m getting the effects of second law of the special theory of the gravitational fields of stuff-to-do:  non-work-related stuff-to-do gravitates towards the time when I have work-related stuff-to-do. Car mirror breaks, dog needs the dentist, visa has to be renewed, coffee grinder is on the fritz, concert jacket needs a button…. None of this happened in August!Surely this happens to everyone- stories, pease?

Gravity, man…..

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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1 comment on “The gravity of my situation”

  1. Pingback: Kenneth Woods- a view from the podium » Archivio » OES Fire- Two weeks on

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