Basically what they’ve done, these three conductors, is win a blind date with one of the world’s hottest/smartest models/actors. They have a day to make an impression but know that two others have their eyes on the totty. They’ll be feeling pretty good about themselves having got this far but the pressure is on, no doubt about that.
Karampini, quietly spoken but with a certain confidence when she talks and a comradely touchy-feeliness about her (even Mackenzie gets the occasional arm around the shoulder), looks nervous when she first addresses the orchestra. But as she dips her toes into the opening of La mer (she has been allocated the first movement for the evening’s concert) she beats the nerves away with assured gestures.
When it comes to rehearsing her way through the movement, however, the atmosphere between orchestra and conductor goes a little flat. That tendency of hers that I’ve mentioned before to talk to the orchestra substantially more than her fellow competitors is very much in evidence today. Did she really need to explain to the cello section, not together in one well-known passage, that she has images of the sun reflecting off rocks to get them to fix the problem? Rather than just stating she wants the passage played more flowingly?
But by the end, the mood is much more promising. An observation at her own expense about her tendency to speak quietly is received with friendly chuckles. These are rather more raucous when she brings the orchestra to a halt at one point to tell them ‘You’re the best I’ve ever had’. Gosh, on only the first date?