Musical compositions are feelings packed into sheet music. They not only describe a certain emotional state but also evoke it through sound, dynamic, rhythmic and the harmonic play of the orchestra, in the listener.
This chain from composer to audience consists of multiple parts.
The mediation of feelings, oftentimes over hundreds of years from the initial composition to performance, sometimes reminds of the telephone game. The conductor, on one end, has to classify the emotional and historical message of the composition to deliver it to the orchestra and practice it. Wether the emotions packed in sound are delivered to the listener and arrive in their hearts is dependant on the emotional comprehension and the play between the musicians, both as individuals and as a group.
The arranger takes the role of the mediator, even before the conductor.
They have to satisfy the expectations of the composer, encoded in sheet music, as well as the wish to make a score sound true in an instrumentation it wasn’t intended for. The task of an arranger consists of being able to adapt the composition to the skilled members of the ensemble and the tonal characteristics of their instruments, without changing the character of the initial work.
Several crucial skills, like extensive knowledge of the various instruments and their tonal- and musical qualities, of styles and forms of compositions as well as personal experience as instrumentalist and conductor and excellent knowledge of the composer and their time are necessary. Only with these and many more prerequisites can the arranger satisfy their role as “music diplomat”, who mediates between the great masters and amateur ensembles. Only this way can we ensure that the musical message eventually reaches the heart of the listener, over centuries, originating from the quill of the composer.