the orchestra world

auditioning for middle-farts, part troix

The next morning I wake at 7:00 a.m., as I need to get warmed up and look at a few spots before driving up to Seattle for the 10:00 a.m. call (meaning I need to arrive there at around 9:15). This time I get an even swankier soloist dressing room, complete with its own toilet, sink and shower, plus two windows, but minus the tuner and metromome (I guess soloists don’t need either of those devices).

After about a half hour I get my list of excerpts and solos. Being the semi-final round, the committee has asked for more excerpts, and for the 1st movement of my concerto, in my case the Hindemith concerto called “Der Schwanendreher” or “The Swan-turner” (the name being drived from the title of one of the folk songs which provides a tune for the concerto, whose opening line is “Are you not the Swan-turner?”).

Next comes the 1st movement excerpt from the Mozart ‘Haffner‘ symphony, the big variation 3 solo from Strauss’ Don Quixote, the opening of the second movement and the trio of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the first two pages of Tchakovsky’s Sixth Symphony, a big swatch of Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture (an excerpt that, once completed, makes you feel like you’ve been beaten about the head and neck with a baseball bat), the solo from the Enesco Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, and the Mendelssohn Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This list feels a bit more comfortable to me than the preliminary list, but the Wagner is one of those excerpts that has given me a lot of trouble and is not a reliable slam dunk by any means.

Just before I go on stage to play, I am told that the Mendelssohn excerpt has been dropped. This is happy news, as I am totally fine with anything that means less time out there (other than being kicked out for poor playing, that is).

I feel similar in this round to how I felt in the preliminary round: nothing is too horrible, but nothing really feels like “yeah, awesome, you nailed that one, dude!” I am relatively happy to make it through the round without humiliating myself, but not to sure that I’d met the higher standard of the semi-final round.

Putting a player through to the finals is a big step in the collective mind of the committee: they’re basically saying that you’re of the standard that they’re comfortable to hire by this point, and it is not done lightly.

I hadn’t eaten much more than a glass of water and a power bar by this point, so I head out across the street to Cafe Lladro to get a decaf mocha and a piece of coffee cake to pass the time while the rest of my group played and then the committee deliberated on our fate.

I come back to the lounge and find that I know four of my fellow candidates. One was a member of the section in Seattle who had left the OSO three seasons ago, the others had subbed with the OSO is past seasons and I’d played with one of them at a summer festival last year.

We chat about our respective audtions, children (or cats), and assorted life news as we wait – I don’t think I’ve ever had such a pleasant audition waiting experience as this one!

After a bit, the personnel manager comes in and thanks us for our time, etc. and notes that due to a contract provision concerning the limit on the number of people that could be placed into the final round, we will only be notified of either being cut from the semi-final round or that we were ‘possible’ finalists who would receive our final status after all semi-final candidates had played (approximately 4:00 that afternoon).

I am again not expecting anything to come of this round, I felt it was fairly lackluster at best, but am shocked to hear my name as one of the two from my group to advance as ‘possible’ finalists!

I gathered my stuff, called my wife and my hosts, and drove back down to Federal Way to await the phone call.

To be continued…

5 replies on “auditioning for middle-farts, part troix”

Thanks for posting this audition report. It is sure a lot easier to read about someone taking an audition than taking one yourself (something I hope never ever to do again). I’m excited to see what happens.

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