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what makes a good concertmaster

Alexander Kerr - Photo: Ronald Knapp

The Dallas Symphony’s blog has posted an interview with one of their guest concertmasters, Alex Kerr (formerly concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra), and he had this to say about the qualities desired in a concertmaster:

The Dallas Symphony is currently searching for a permanent concertmaster. (Auditions will be held Nov. 15.) What are some of the traits you believe go into a good concertmaster?

First and foremost, violin skills. You have to be able to play the violin to the point where your colleagues will respect you. Second of all, you have to be a very good diplomat. You have to have good people skills. You have to be able to work with 110 people who all have their own egos and all are great musicians. And you have to be able to galvanize their attitudes and put them together into one group. You also have to have an incredible amount of internal strength. You have to have faith in yourself. You are playing under pressure all the time.

And the last thing you have to have is you have to care. If you don’t care, the orchestra will feel it. You have to care about the quality of what you are doing and how you go about achieving it. You have to have personal involvement, and if you don’t there’s no point in taking the job.

Alex Kerr will return to the DSO as guest concertmaster on Feb. 10-13 at the Meyerson and on May 11 at Carnegie Hall, both with Maestro Van Zweden.

Read the entire interview here.