Falling Off the Podium and Other Life Lessons is a warm and wise anthology of tales from a most engaging musical artist, Dr. John V. Sinclair, the esteemed Musical Director of the Bach Festival Society and a renowned conductor of choral and orchestral works and festivals.
By Terry Teachout
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, the life and work of a conductor are an impenetrably mysterious business to non-musicians. Exactly what is he doing waving that stick around up there on the podium—and who taught him how to wave it?
Conductors don’t play anything, yet they conjure up music out of thin air, and everyone, including their colleagues, watches them do it. In my experience, no line of artistic work is harder for laymen to understand. Yet conductors, perhaps in part because of this seemingly inexplicable aspect of their careers, tend to be fascinating creatures, and on the rare occasions when they write memoirs, the results are always worth reading.
I’ve known John Sinclair for the better part of both our lives and have worked with him in a wide variety of capacities, always with pleasure and profit. Not only is he a superbly accomplished artist, but he’s also a great storyteller; the kind of man with whom you always look forward to dining after a performance. Yet I’d only heard a handful of the tales that he tells in Falling Off the Podium … and Other Life Lessons, some of which are charming and funny, others deeply poignant, and all immensely interesting to read.