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Interested in Leading a Large Ensemble?

Advice from three of today’s top composer-bandleaders

Arturo O'Farrill
Darcy James Argue
Maria Schneider
Arturo O'Farrill leading his Latin Jazz Orchestra at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival 2010

From the burst of laughter that follows, it’s clear that Maria Schneider is (mostly) joking when she says her first piece of advice to someone contemplating forming a big band would be “Turn around and run.” But given the challenges that face any ensemble in today’s economic and cultural climate, perhaps it’s good advice to any but the most dedicated bandleader.

“It’s sort of like going through labor,” Schneider continues. “It’s the most painful thing in the world and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Look at this child! It’s the most beautiful thing ever!’ So when somebody says they’re starting a band, I look at them the way some people look at other people when they say, ‘We’re pregnant.’ Congratulations, and, oh boy, are they ever in for a life.”

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