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February 1, 2012

Midweek Madness: The ultimate in carefree conducting

If Oliver Hardy had been a conductor, I imagine he would have been just like Joseph R. Olefirowicz, who is as cool and funny and expressive as can be in this clip from the Volksoper in Vienna.

One look, and I knew I had to share it on your favorite Wednesday online featurette in the entire cyber-cosmos, Midweek Madness. You will thank me. Profusely. (As I thank my Florida buddies for alerting me to it.)

This was filmed just last week during a concert version of ...

Bernstein's "Candide" -- specifically the number "What's the Use?" It's not super audio, but you'll hear enough to see that this Massachusetts-born conductor could not be more comfortable with the music or himself.

I sure hope more clips of the "Candide" performance emerge. I keep imagining how terrifically this guy could give cues during "Glitter and be Gay." ( I did find a clip filmed at a rehearsal for a different "Candide" a year or two earlier, and I figured it would be fun to have here, too.)


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:44 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Clef Notes


I'm not to sure about the clarity (from an orchestra member's point of view), but (HO MY!) what a personality!

I love it. Tim, thank you for sharing.

So much fun to see someone really let it all hang out. I wonder if the cast was as entertaining as the conductor. TIM

Fabulous! A triumph! Although if I were in the orchestra, I'm not sure that I wouldn't be laughing too hard to actually play the music. Profuse thanks Tim!

I am glad that my video is liked so much...and believe me: Joseph knows exactly when he has to really give directions and ┬┤when he is free to make fun...the orchestra, singers and Joseph understood each other VERY well in this...!

Cannot thank you enough for the uplifting video. It is great to see musicians on the same strong wavelength. TIM


Clarity? Clear enough. Clearer than many 'greater' conductors, but more fun while at it. In any case: listen to the clarinet in the above clip respond immediately when he suggests her to tone it down a little. So he's got them to be responsive and the players are obviously benevolently amused and still listen/look and take him seriously. And: it's just such great fun. As music should be, Requiems and DSCH 13 excepted.

The Video is back!

The only time I can remember laughing during a concert performance was in 1992, when Musikfest (Bethlehem PA) Chorus did its rendition of Carmina Burana. As you know, near the end, there's a tenor aria about a roasting swan. On the last verse, he started turning around slowly, arms stiffly at his sides, as though trussed up on a spit, while he sang "now I am blackened and roasting fiercely".

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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