Maestro Nicholas McGegan is short in stature, unprepossessing of character, and was able to draw the absolute best out of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra last night when they played Handel’s Water Music, Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony. Does it help that he is 32-year director of San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and has been awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for music services? Not really.
At some point earlier in the week, guest conductor Nicholas had to stand up before a group of total strangers, each an expert in playing these pieces. With a mere eight rehearsal hours, he had to weld them into a unit that would perform this music his way. And from the moment he raised his hands at the podium, his mastery methods became evident. Nicholas McGeghan completely enjoyed this music and these musicians. It was obvious to everyone in the hall that there was no other place on this planet Maestro McGeghan wanted to be. His gestures were unconventional. He used no baton. But his sheer joy contagiously radiated throughout the hall. Of course the NJSO musicians followed suit. Nicholas’ enthusiasm was irresistible….Leadership lesson #1, I noted.
After the performance I chatted briefly with a couple of the musicians concerning their guest conductor. Both agreed that this Cambridge and Oxford educated professor held an exceptional gift for articulating exactly what he wanted, in a way that they all understood. I have been able to experience this Leadership lesson #2 at work under the direction of Mr. Noel Werner, music director of the Nassau Presbyterian church choir. Noel employs a humorous verbal precision to steer our vocality away from “the Carol Channing flat aya” and “the sonorous Kentucky hills RRR,” onto the exact tones he requires. The more precisely and comprehensibly you can articulate what you want, the more likely you are to get it.
Ten cents of my own money says that lessons #1 and #2 just might apply to the leadership of my own ventures.
Wishing you Every Success,
– Bart Jackson