The wand selects the wizard

Some 15 years or so, give or take, I was in Santa Monica and it was a Saturday morning with weather feeling much like this today.  It was just hot enough that motivation for anything was hard to come by.  LA had a very good classical music station - this is in the day of the 286PC and dial ups and 15,500k Hayes modems so we had to rely on an actual radio to hear music. Can you imagine.  They announced that today (that today not today-today) there was a "conducting competition" at the Hollywood Bowl and the winner would get to conduct the orchestra there in the national anthem and perhaps one other piece at some concert in August. Ha! motivation.
I drove out to the Bowl - a long trip by the way (just head toward the Hollywood sign on the hillside and turn left), found the audition area and came upon a throng of folks all flailing around conducting imaginary orchestras that played in their heads. The radio station gave away a free baton to each entrant and it was all one could do to get to the sign in desk without being stabbed or poked in the eye. Very unsafe.

With a megaphone it was announced to divide into two groups; to the left those who have actually conducted something (anything) before and to the right everyone who conducts in front of a mirror at home. The crowd parted like the Red Sea into two groups of perhaps 150 each. There were two pieces of music to "conduct", Eine Kleine Nachtmusic and the final part of 1812 overture..they would play about 10 seconds of music and you would start to conduct this imaginary orchestra playing over the loud speakers. It was all form and no substance. But scary no matter. 300 wannabes who would strike you dead if they could win or advance.
We were led up 10 at a time - I think now of the Gibson movie Apocalypto where the captives were led up to be sacrificed - and ruthlessly the judges would walk up after and say "go go go stay go go stay etc." and hopes were dashed on the spot. It took all afternoon but we got down to 10 then 5 then 3. Close but no cigar. (I was the best ... ha!)

While the weeding out was going on there was plenty of time for talk and hot dogs. One woman was from Texas and was out for the week, came here as a lark and was now "feeling the pressure".  Another fellow explained that this could be "his big break" if he won.  A few just came for the baton that said Hollywood Bowl Conductors Competition printed along the shaft in tiny letters. I still have mine.

A long time back conductors, when they even used one, used to lead with a big drum major like "prompter" something that the guards hit the floor with to announce the arrival of the king. They would actually clomp the floor to keep time - keep the beat. A french musician, Lully, actually stomped his toe with one during a concert and subsequently died from the infection. Tough job.
The conducting baton we use now is really a stylized violin bow as the first desk violin player often "led" the orchestra. This didn't work so well when there were musicians who couldn't see him so the idea of a stand up person 'leading' and not playing was refined from practices dating back a thousand years to the idea of the "maestro" we enjoy, laugh at, envy and applaud.

In thinking back to that day and talking with all those folks, all with interesting perspectives and reasons for being there it boiled down to the baton - the stick - that white thing with Hollywood Bowl printed on it - Harry Potter's wand, Darth's light saber...all one in the same.  The orchestra in front, the loud speaker orchestra, the one in the bathroom mirror or the one that plays magically in your car, they are all incidental and interestingly all play the same and sound the same. The orchestra in my head sounds like the real thing and just like your orchestra in your head.

Anyway, it is too hot a morning for all this. Just let the music play in your head. Remember. The wand selects the wizard.