[VIEWPOINT]Great teams consist of the best individualsThe Bachorchestra des Gewandhaus zu Leipzig (shortened to Bachorchestra below) played all six Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach at the Seoul Arts Center on Wednesday.
It was the first time the whole collection of concertos has ever been performed by a foreign orchestra visiting Korea.
The performance lasted a little more than two-and-a-half hours.
During the performance, 22 musicians out of the 26 orchestra members ― all but the three cellists and one harpsichordist ― played standing up.
It is not strange for chamber orchestra members to play standing up.
According to Lee Chang-joo, the chief executive of Vincero, which planned the concert, many Korean journalists attended the concert at Nagoya, Japan, where the Bachorchestra played before coming to Korea.
After the performance, the main question people asked was, “Isn’t it tiring to play standing up through such a long performance? Why do you play standing up?”
Violinist and conductor Christian Funke answered, “Soloists always play standing.” So it can be said that the music of the Bachorchestra is “an ensemble of soloists.”
A group of soloists who excel at ensemble too is the most ideal form of a music group.
In sports, it can be compared to a soccer team line-up with the best players at every position, or a baseball team that has all nine batters with a .300 or higher batting average and lots of home runs, and a roster of starting pitchers with an earned run average close to 0.
Beethoven’s piano trio in D major, recorded in 1941 by the “Million Dollar Trio,” Jascha Heifetz, Arthur Rubinstein and Gregor Piatigorsky, is one of the most famous chamber music albums ever recorded.
It is a historic record of teamwork among geniuses and an ensemble of the best soloists.
However, it is almost impossible for an orchestra of 15 to 30 people to make such a dream team.
Korean soccer players, armed with strong patriotism and responsibility toward their fans, played the best they could at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The wall that the Korean team ran into wasn’t a lack of organizational skill or physical endurance, but the lack of high-level football technique.
With the exception of one or two players, the power and technique of the individual players were not up to world standards.
Figuratively speaking, the matches involving the Korean players were far from a brilliant ensemble of soloists.
That is why, when we failed to make it into the quarterfinals, we sighed, “We don’t have a goal getter like Thierry Henry of France or Miroslav Klose of Germany,” or said that it was because we didn’t have “a defensive leader like Hong Myung-bo, as we did in the 2002 World Cup.”
Whether or not Dick Advocaat led the team well is another problem to be considered.
Orchestra auditions are basically an effort to look for great soloists.
The individual’s performance ability is the first thing to be judged.
The standard for selecting national soccer team players is also the player’s ability to play a good soccer game.
Members of any organization need to be great soloists for the organization to be strong. However, you can’t have the best musicians and the best players in every position, and that is why people say things like “This orchestra has a great brass section,” or “the middle defense line of this team is impenetrable.”
The worse the organization is, the more it stresses the group and suppresses the capability of soloists as its leader tries to tyrannize its own people.
Instead of trying to make a “star” in the group, it tries to weed stars out.
Such organizations sometimes present conditions that can only be seen as “death pills,” forcing the star players to back away on their own.
The terms that come up often at times like this are: “You break our teamwork,” “you’re too self-centered,” or “you make other people feel deprived.”
Organizations like this often end up as a team far from victory, or a musical group that has no monumental album or concert achievement, although they have gifted members that others envy and want for themselves.
Sadly, we all know this storyline. Its failure is repeated all too frequently.
* The writer is a deputy sports and culture news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Hur Jin-seok