What if a conductor gave post-concert feedback to an orchestra the way a football coach talked to his team? This is too much fun not to try, so here's my imagination of what Mike Riley would have said after Nebraka's last-second "Hail Joseph Smith" loss to BYU last Saturday.
"Well, guys, we really messed up that ending. I think we got a little nervous and lost focus in the coda. I know programming Tchaikovsky 1 made for a tougher-than-usual opening concert, but now I know you've got a picture of the standards I want us to achieve every show.
"Strings, we've got to do a bit more work to get in sync with one another. You've really got to listen all the way from first-chair to last-chair. We really did have a few good moments, but there were just too many of us who were slightly off-pitch, and forgot some of the trickier bowings.
"Brass, you had a tough opening piece, but after intermission you really rose to the occasion. I know we had that giant crack on the last chord, but just use that as motivation to be 100% focused from the downbeat to the final cutoff.
"Winds, again, we really had some beautiful moments, like that spectacular clarinet solo right after intermission. You can take a lot of confidence out of this performance, even as we all work to maintain focus and energy through the whole evening.
"Percussion...we got some work to do. There were just too many missed entrances, and the cymbals totally whiffed twice. It was like you were aiming too far to the left or something. I'm going to need to take some extra time with you during the next set.
"As for me, there were definitely a few cues I want back. Especially toward the end, I tried to get a little fancy with some cutoffs and just confused the heck out of you. I thought that the programming was ambitious, and I knew it would be tough, but I also want you to know what I think you're capable of. Let's learn from tonight and come out with a vengeance next time. Mozart and Vivaldi may be a step down in technical difficulty from Tchaikovsky and Debussy, but I want to see how you increase your attention to detail. Don't forget we've got Don Juan and Mahler 5 coming up toward the end of the season, so find your groove in your practicing and mental prep work now!
"That is all. Practice early and often. I've got your back and I'm your biggest fan. See you next week."