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Auditions and Politics

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Baron von Basso, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. Baron von Basso

    Baron von Basso

    Nov 3, 2002
    well since it was suggested, let's see if we can discuss this on its own thread in a way that abides by forum rules.

    There are a few orchestras that, from what I've seen and heard, are pointless to audition for. The principal knows who the gig will go to way before the first note is played. I've thought about contacting the AFM when openings come up in these major orchestras to tell them that I want to complain in the event that so and so's student gets the gig. If I do it before the inevitable handing-of-the-job-to-somebody-that-does-not-always-earn-it, then maybe they'd take it seriously and not think that I am just a sore loser.

    This could get crazy because then every sore loser would claim this, but in certain MAJOR orchestras, it is obvious.

    Is it acceptable to start an list of questionable groups? I don't know if that would be frowned upon but if certain groups start springing up on many people's lists then we'd know that something is certainly wrong there.

    disgusting that the world has come to this, isn't it?
  2. Wake up, it's always been like that. I was just talking to a friend this afternoon about the very subject.

    He was called to testify in an arbitration case in NYC and he was telling me about how biased the section principal is in auditions then does everything possible to undermine the advancement of the person he selected for the position. The world is full of selfish and insecure people.
  3. Call me naive but how can this be? I suppose there are many ways to cheat but auditions are supposed to be anonymous...at least in the first few rounds.

    The few auditions I've done for regional orchestras, all rounds were behind a screen. And my friends who were on the committee swear they have no way of knowing who the auditioner is.
  4. If one of those auditioning had been a star student of yours, you would know that person even if a screen is used. That was the aforementioned case.
  5. Baron von Basso

    Baron von Basso

    Nov 3, 2002
    indeed. A teacher could tell their student's sound, phrasing and especially the choice of solo piece and the nuances used in that solo from behind the screen. Then all it takes is the teacher to get some of the others to vote for that student. Kind of a "I'll vote for your student if you vote for mine".

    Are there any times that it is acceptable? I thought about this when a friend was auditioning for a big orchestra that she had subbed with for many years. They all knew her playing fit in with their section and she could blend with everybody. They knew that she was great with their section (it was horns, not basses) so I thought that maybe if it came down to it in the finals that it could be understandable to go with what they know really works for them. She didn't get the gig though, but it got me wondering.

    I've heard of auditions where 2 finalists are given chances to "prove themselves" in performances. In one case, the bassist that the committee selected turned out to be the one that didn't blend as well in the section so the other bassist won the spot. Maybe there is something to picking the finalist that you know will fit the ensemble. BUT, that isn't what usually happens. Usually it is teachers getting the gig for their students. It makes the teacher more marketable to have students playing in the big leagues.
  6. That makes sense - in the same way that I know Rabbath's sound a mile away. I guess the folks I work with are actually trying to be unbiased. But as is discussed in another thread, the bassists they hire over and over again are inexperienced at playing in a section. In my experience the only thing that matters is memorizing a bunch of excerpts and a solo then playing as loud as you can in the audition...

    Maybe at the higher levels this isn't an issue. Hopefully, the auditioners at that level can actually play in the section. Is there a way that a jury can hear whether an auditioner can play in the section?
  7. I've heard that that very seat is now the one being announced for re-audition. Is that true?

    Since the late 1980s most auditions have been screened and far more fair than they used to be, I'm told from those who've been around to see it both ways. In many cases the final rounds are unscreened, though, which is fine, I suppose at that point. In the earlier screened rounds it's much harder to sabotage the audition, so more good players make it through.

    There are still a couple good-old-boy orchestras, but when you're on the "audition trail", you just gotta keep trying.
  8. The AFM (union) cares, and both those assocaitions are union. If a union audition goes poorly, there is an audtion complaint hotline, and then things happen (like what "old saw" is talking about on the other audition thread), where there's a mini-trial, hearing and report.

  9. Not offended! Just want people to know that there is hope, and that there are safeguards in place, and that they work in most places.

    It can be done.
    14 months into my first ICSOM job
    Louisville Orchestra
    Bass Player, Beer Lover
  10. kontri

    kontri Guest

    Oct 5, 2002
    Students of a principal from a orch. usually have the sound that the section is looking for. I know f.x. that it will be easier for me to get a job in the orchestra my teacher is principal in than the other orchestras.

    I´ve taken lessons with the other principals of the Copenhagen orchestras and believe me, they are very different. So my sound and style does not fit in the other orchestras.

    My point is: It´s understandable that students of the principal gets the job.

    That´s my two cents!
  11. John Greenan

    John Greenan

    Mar 10, 2002
    I have an absolute tin ear, but, sitting outside the room, on a screened edition in a high school competition my son was in several years ago, I knew immediately which bass player he was.

    I find it hard to believe that real musicians wouldn't recognize someone they had heard play before, screened or not.

    (of course I'd probably heard several thousand hours of my son't practice)

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