A Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra

Although it has been out for well over a year on YouTube, I only recently stumbled across Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra at YouTube (h/t Holly Mulcahy). It’s an hour long program written by and featuring UK comedian Bill Bailey that’s perhaps best described as what if the cast of Monty Python wrote The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra?

It’s tough not to like Britt humor (humour?) and since the original performance was in the fall of 2008, Bailey’s routine is chocked full of good natured (or is it well deserved?) bank-executives-are-the-root-of-all-evil humor. I can see why this hasn’t been done anywhere in the US (that I’m aware of) as it would require some liberal cultural reference adaptation but I don’t see why that’s stopping anyone.

But judge it yourself. BTW, make sure you catch the bit on trombones at 22:53 (wait for it) and the Alpine Bells at 48:00; terrific stuff. The latter of which reminds me of some of the four hands, one piano stuff Victor Borge used to do.


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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