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< A Pianist who writes Poetry | Main | Fans of classical music (e.g. elderly people) >

Whose baton is it, anyway?

Posted at 8:00 PM on May 23, 2008 by Fred Child

Finally, a reality show for the rest of us. ("The rest of us" being classical music types.)

Eight celebrities, all described as avid classical fans, will compete on "Maestro." The prizes: conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra on September 13 for an outdoor audience of 30,000 in London's Hyde Park. And avoiding the humiliation of being booted off a reality show.

The show won't be broadcast until August, but work begins Monday with a week-long "Baton Camp," where each celeb gets a mentor. (The BBC's Maestro website describes the mentors as "established professional conductors," although no names are mentioned.)

Over the summer, the aspiring maestros and maestras will "learn how to inspire and engage with the orchestra and the music." And from the sound of it, they'll be expected to do more than wave a stick to Pomp and Circumstance -- they'll be drilled on symphonic, choral, and operatic works.

After two months of training, they'll face the music, as it were, conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra on TV, watched by a studio audience and a panel of judges led by conductor Sir Roger Norrington. This is when the BBC2's broadcasts will begin, and at the end of each episode...yes, you guessed it...one will be voted off the island of Britain.

No, wait, they'll just be voted off the show.

Host of the show ("presenter" in BBC-speak) will be Clive Anderson, who has a cult following in the states as host of the Beeb's version of the improv comedy show "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?"

The competitors are better known in Britain than the states: the host of the English "Wheel of Fortune," ITV and BBC newscasters, the rapper and DJ named Goldie, the bass player for the alt-rock band Blur, actors and comedians. Americans might know David Soul, who played Starsky's pal, Hutch.

From the BBC2's site:

Under constant scrutiny, from both the judges and the orchestra they are conducting, the students will have to show beyond any doubt that they have the talent, passion and nerves of steel necessary to conduct a full orchestra as part of one of the most famous events in the classical music calendar: BBC Proms In The Park, part of the Last Night Of The Proms.

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