What are the roles of the Conductor, Concertmaster, and Principals?

Our Concertmaster Renaud Lapierre gives us the answer:

“The role of a Conductor is to unify a large group of musicians into a core sound instead of a wild bunch of different sounds surging out; the role of a Concertmaster is to decode the conductor’s information, and transmit it to the orchestra, plus to his section; the role of Principals is to use all this information and put it in the context of their own sections.

We could almost make an army ranking comparison (which could sound very weird, but):

  • Conductors are the generals: they decide what they want and have a strategy for the whole piece.
  • Concertmasters are the captain: they decode the strategy and try to convey the Conductor’s needs in concrete ways.
  • Principals are sergeants: they receive directions from both the Conductor and the Concertmaster, and they organize their sections to fulfill these musical ideas.”