In an attempt to further define and develop the conductor’s role in new music, I asked Jennifer Walshe to work on a new project with Nadar Ensemble and myself, an ensemble with which I have premiered many of the pieces that catalyzed my doctoral studies.  Walshe graciously accepted and proposed to write a piece for ensemble, conductor, live video, and electronics. The piece will play with the established relationship and hierarchy of conductor and ensemble and how that may be deployed artistically. More specifically, Walshe has proposed to focus especially on the conductor’s hands, including super close-ups, a series of poses, and movement sequences. Her references include hand modeling, home shopping network jewelry infomercials, the Japanese phenomenon ‘girlfriend hand’, and manicure YouTube channels.
Together with Nadar and deSingel International Arts Campus, I decided to offer Walshe this commission because not only is she an internationally acclaimed performer, composer, and educator, but she is alsowell-known for diving deep into the depths of a subject and pushing the performers to see things from newfound perspectives. My research aims to reconsider conductor’s performance practice and to find new ways in which to develop and even instrumentalize the role. Conducting is a movement-based musical practice, though it is normally not associated with directly generating sound. According to Nadar’s artistic directors, Stefan Prins and Pieter Matthynssens, conducting may even be considered as venturing towards another performing arts discipline:
The conductor is a visual element, so if you program concerts in which you think the visual element is really important, then putting it simply, with a conductor, you have a dancer on stage. 
It therefore seemed fitting to enlist the help of Walshe who, according to her compositional manifesto, The New Discipline, embodies a ‘rigorous approach to making and critiquing compositions where physical, theatrical and visual elements are as important as the sonic’. Her work is a strict practice of ‘finding, learning and developing new compositional and performative tools’.  Musicologist Monika Voithofer describes Walshe’s compositions as being ‘characterized by the (…) revaluation of the body and physicality’ and calling for a ‘multisensory, instead of a merely auditory, perception’.  The concept of a note, or music, is much broader for Walshe than simply an auditory value. For Walshe, the tilt of the performer’s head can communicate as much as the intense sound of a fast moving bow. Or in our case, the conductor’s cueing gestures and inhalations can hold as much musical value as the resonance of a gran cassa.
Both in the literature and during the many in-depth interviews I conducted during this research, I found that the presence of a conductor creates a perceived hierarchy on stage.  Some of the composers with whom I talked accepted this ‘performance ritual’  as is, but most attempted in one way or the other to utilize it to their (artistic) advantage. When we discussed this aspect of my research, Walshe was more than keen to put this to use in our project. Her works such as THMOTES (2013), a snapchat piece, and the completely composed (and fictional) Historical Documents of the Irish Avant-Garde (2015)  challenge long-standing and accepted, even romantic, hierarchal roles of the composer and historian, respectively. She was only too happy to take on the conductor’s assumed position.
I came across many new themes during my doctoral studies, but perhaps one of the more personally resonant concepts is the manner in which Håkon Stene, during his keynote address at our ARIA conference, Framing the Normal, described his ‘post-instrumental practice’: a ‘hybrid performer aesthetic’ in which we as musicians step away from our trained instruments and apply the same learning methodologies across the new instruments and playing techniques that we are tasked with playing by today’s composers.  To that effect, Walshe’s closing statement to her compositional manifesto served as a key motivator for offering her this commission and involving her in my final artistic presentation:
Perhaps we are finally willing to accept that the bodies playing the music are part of the music, that they’re present, they’re valid and they inform our listening whether subconsciously or consciously. That it’s not too late for us to have bodies. 
 Examples of works premiered include AMID (2004) by Simon Steen-Andersen, Point Ones (2012) by Alexander Schubert, and Ghost of Dystopia (2014, rev. 2019) by Alexander Khubeev.
 Pieter Matthynssens, interview by Thomas R. Moore, January 21, 2020.
 'The New Discipline', Milker Corporation, accessed 20 July 2021, http://milker.org/the-new-discipline.
 Monika Voithofer, '“That It´s Not Too Late for Us to Have Bodies". Notes on Extended Performance Practices in Contemporary Music', Music & Practice 6 (July 2020): https://doi.org/10.32063/0602.
 Thomas R. Moore, 'The Instrumentalised Conductor', Tempo 75, no. 297 (July 2021): 48–60, https://doi.org/10.1017/S004029822100022X.
 Elliott Schwartz and Daniel Godfrey, Music Since 1945: Issues, Materials, and Literature (New York: Schirmer Books, 1993).
 'Aisteach | Preserving the History of Ireland’s Avant-Garde', accessed 20 July 2021, http://www.aisteach.org/.
 'Schedule', Framing the Normal, 29 March 2021, https://framingthenormal.wordpress.com/schedule/.
 'The New Discipline'.