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Getting a steady classical gig - hard or not

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by kid_squanto, May 13, 2006.

  1. Hard

  2. Not Hard

  3. Carrots

  1. kid_squanto


    May 5, 2006
    Hey - I'm a 16 year old bass player from the Chicagoland area, and I was wondering I've heard so many different
    things about getting a job in a professional orchestra, I don't really know what to believe. For you that have experience in the field of professional orchestras, how hard is it to land a gig? Any suggestions?
  2. Depends entirely on your skill level. If you're the next Ed Barker or Hal Robinson, it shouldn't be too difficult.

    Most of us are not.
  3. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    +1 to that....

    And still it is even harder than when they auditioned. Because the level is through the roof these days.

    I'd think it over ...
  4. Machina


    Aug 1, 2005
    Anything worth it will be hard.

    My personal belief is that if I am not practicing, someone else is and someone will always be better than you currently are. No matter who you are.

    I see your a student in Chicago. The last time the CSO had auditions my teacher was up against around 150 bassist for that very pretigious orchestra spot. (I live in Chicago also) Imagine playing Brahms, then Mozart, then Beethoven and Bottesini flawlessly and better than 149 others. Sounds like it could be tough to me...still it is worth doing every moment of everyday!
  5. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Professional classical music has already reached a point where it is far too competitive. But if you're the best of the best of the best, go for it!
  6. Was there a time when it wasn't competitive? To make a decent living playing only in an orchestra, even back in 1900, was never easy. The market's reached a peak, I think. From a market point of view, I would guess that in 20 to 30 years, the level of competition would go down.
  7. It seems like as the level of playing is rising there are also more professional orchestras. I'm not sure what the ratio is. I imagine that the amount of great bass players is rising faster than the amount of jobs.

    There used to be only the big five (Boston, New York, Philly, Cleveland, and Chicago). Now there are major professional orchestras all over the country and more that will probably be in the same league within the next few decades.
  8. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    I couldn't agree more with you here. But ...I think the deccreasing competition will also be affected by the fact that the sypmphony orchestra as an institutuion is a sinking ship. In toadys market how can a symphony compete with peoples constant dwindling attention spans and obsessions with button pushing and instant gratification.
    I have often wondered , how long will it last, this job I have of playing mostly music from 1790-1950.
    I love the symphony but I see the writing on the wall.
    I think in 20-30 years there will only be half of the orchestras in full time work than are today.

    I hope I'm wrong
  9. That might be true in America. It doesn't seem to me like classical music is going to have nearly as many troubles over in Europe. And in Asia, things are just getting started.
  10. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    I agree but believe me when I say that here in europe there are people who think that ricky Lake and Maury is real culture. Don't forget that it was the greeks who invented wrestling but the Romans who tunred it to the WWF.
  11. I think for bass players the market has become far more competitve in the last 30 or so years. Quotes from famous teachers along the lines of "...in the 60s, if you could play a scale, you had a job," are big clues.
    It's now very competitive just for part-time professional positions.
    Of course, the other string instruments are way beyond this; it's been competitive for them far longer....
  12. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    I actually heard an interesting point from an orchestra exec who was on the panel of this forum we had at school. Aside from a bunch of other useless bs she spewed out, she said that it's not that people are losing interest, but that the orchestras that formed around the time that symphonies were hitting their peak are now folding. So, it's not that people are losing interest, but that interest is leveling off after hitting a high point. Anyone find any credibility in this statement?
  13. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    The last ten years, I think, has been more difficult than previous years to secure bass employment. Before the early to mid-90s, if a talented, hard-working, well-trained bassist could not secure 52-week ICSOM employment, there was always the option of full-time ROPA orchestras, metropolitan area freelancing, &/or foreign orchestras. Those back-up opportunities are now either gone or just as difficult to win as a big gig.

    It is so competitive now that I hear graduates of conservatories talking about "winning" a spot in music graduate school. I never thought that day would come, but it has. Spots in grad school have to be "won" as if they were big gigs.
  14. That rings true.
    Lots of orchestras really built up when the economic picture was cheerier, and ESPECIALLY as the so-called Baby Boomers hit their fourties.
    It really is more about demographics; classical music, even in Mozart's time, was mainly attended by middle-age people who had the time and money to indulge in their interest.
    As people nowadays feel less certain for retirement there's just less dedication to arts and leisure pursuits. Arts Groups really feel the insecurity fast, when people don't buy subscriptions but opt for single tickets as they go, so groups don't see money up front and have to just float along....
  15. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Part of the problem with symphony orchestras today is that so little appealing new music is breaking into the repertoire. As a consequence, the programs for an orchestra's season seem to be just re-shuffling of the same, tired list of standards.

    I'm not sure whether that's because not enough good new music is being written for symphony orchestras, or because the good music that is written isn't being heard.

    I suspect the former. When most of Western art music turned to 12-tone and other popularly inaccessible forms after WWI, I think the audience just stopped being interested in new music. Composers composed for academics and other composers, not for a broader audience. And those with compositional skills drifted into other forms that paid better, like musicals and movie scores.

    As a consquence, orchestras stopped being places where people came to hear the latest work by Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler, and became instead museums for the works of dead composers.

    I hope I'm wrong, but that's how it seems to me on a bad day.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I suspect that anybody who expects that the world of orchestras, can be simplified into terms like "hard/not hard" is never going to make it!! :meh:
  17. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    Yeah, but when he's only 16 I think he can be forgiven!

    There's no question that it's a major challenge to get an orchestral bass job now. Just the sheer numbers of good players out there now makes it tough. Add in to the mix the number of jobs that are more or less pre-determined before the audition and the challenge is much steeper. I would still hope that playing in tune with a good sound and good rhythm would eventually land you a job somewhere...
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't know - not long left, to grow up and take music seriously....?

    At 16 I was listening to Stockhausen, Berio, Ligeti etc. and had played my first atonal piece, written by a friend who was a pianist.

    I just imagine an interview at a music college : so, Dude - is it like hard to get an orchestra job!! :D
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I'm not sure what it's like in the US - but surely to even be considered for a professional orchestra, you will have to have a music degree and therefore go to a college at 18 - which is less than 2 years away - pass an audition , meet their entry requirements etc. ?

    Not that long to make up your mind, if you're already 16?
  20. Justin K-ski

    Justin K-ski

    May 13, 2005
    No necessarily. Carter Brey, (principal cellist of the NY phil) didn't start playing the cello until he was 16!! However once he made up his mind he practiced his ass off. Carlos Klieber didn't start his musical training until he was in his twenties. If you can start late and become the musical titans those two are it's certainly not too late to be showing a little bit of naivety.

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