Sometimes, after we play a long passage of music, Shimono-san refers back to a rehearsal number and makes a comment to us about it. Maybe it needs to move forward, maybe it needs to be lighter, or we should pace a crescendo or diminuendo in a certain way. And then he keeps going to the next section, even skipping over certain sections of music. That he doesn't go back to make us play through the comment he's just made gives the sense that he trusts us, and we appreciate it. And it gives the sense that he respects us as musicians and respects our time and energy in rehearsal.
Whenever Shimono-san wants to begin, he asks us if he may start from a certain point. "May I start from the beginning?" And it gives us the feeling that we are a part of the decision about how rehearsals are going. Sometimes he asks us to help him. Why do no other conductors do that? Do they really think they can make us do anything? Shimono-san always includes us fully in the process.
And if it's not about us making music, it's about what he's learned in score study. His rehearsals are efficient because he knows the score very well and knows what aspects he wants to share with us and the audience. In the Yoshimatsu piece we are playing, he highlights ensemble characteristics that we might have missed in the cacophony, making the piece make more sense to us which should help us give it more meaning for the audience. I feel like I'm learning something about the pieces that we're playing.
It's such a pleasure to work with such a humble and hardworking leader. There are so many qualities in him that I would hope to bring to any ensemble with which I'm working and any students with whom I'm working. It's a pleasure to have him back on the podium. He is most certainly someone that I will miss working with in Japan.