Take Your Pick: Ma, Maazel, Or Ross

After watching Yo-Yo Ma’s appearance earlier this week on the Colbert Report it dawned on me that throughout 2008, that program featured three prominent classical music figures: Yo-Yo Ma, Lorin Maazel, and (classical music’s newest G-Man) Alex Ross. Each appearance left me with a distinctly different impression and I’m curious to know if readers think any of the personalities projects a better image for classical music in the United States. Fortunately, the Colbert Nation website makes judging easy by providing clips for each appearance. So have some fun in your day and take a moment to watch each clip and vote for which personality you feel best represents classical music to the general public…

Yo-Yo Ma

Lorin Maazel

Alex Ross

[poll id=”5″]

Finally, I encourage every reader to take a moment and leave a comment about your observations from each of the clips. Were they all good? Did anything leave you cringing? Was there a unified message among all three interviews? Etc.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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7 thoughts on “Take Your Pick: Ma, Maazel, Or Ross”

  1. In all seriousness, while I appreciate Colbert reaching out to cultural icons and bringing them on his show, it is still all about him. The guests hardly can get a word in edgewise between Colbert’s wisecracks. I suppose that is all we can expect from this brand of info-tainment.

    Entertaining though they may be, I wish that sometimes he (and Jon Stewart) would just step back any let his guests talk for a while. I would hardly call these spots interviews – they are more like boxing matches. Occasionally his guests get in a good left hook (like Ma’s “thin” comment about Colbert’s baton) but otherwise, most guests are like bantam-weights going against a heavyweight.

    Yes, Colbert’s act is a self-effacing, running commentary on right-wing views (which I enjoy) but I just wish that he could take it down a notch or two during the interviews. Either that or his guests should be better prepared with snappy zingers to compete with Colbert’s quick wit and constant eye-winking at the camera.

  2. Good observations Bruce; at the same time I’ve always found that the guests who seem to do best on Colbert at getting their message across are those capable of playing into that character seamlessly. I have no clue how they prepare guests but it might be worth it if the show put together a quick and dirty pamphlet for guests on how to get their message out.

    I have to imagine that form Colbert’s perspective you don’t want a boring guest to drone on and one until your entire audience has turned the channel. If that’s accurate then it makes sense to jump on the conversation if you have any feeling that a guest may be a dud. That’s all speculation on my end but it would be interesting to have an interview with the “real” Colbert to learn more about it.

  3. Those in Canada can watch these videos at TheComedyNetwork.ca.

    I thought all three gave great interviews — it’s personally heartwarming to see that a good conductor joke can still get a laugh from a general audience. Colbert treated each of them very differently, of course — there was a deference shown to Maestro Maazel, whereas both Alex Ross and Yo-Yo got more of his smarmy interview persona. If I had to choose, I might go with Yo-Yo, because he was the best at returning Colbert’s jabs — and because he stuck around to perform for Colbert’s audience.

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