auditions the orchestra world

audition discoveries

I served on another audition committee this week. This time around it was for our assistant principal second violin opening. I think this is around the tenth audition committee I’ve been on – actually, I’ll take an inventory right now: I’ve sat on committees for four viola auditions, associate concertmaster, three violin auditions, principal cello, tuba, two bass auditions, and principal trumpet. I think there may be others, they’ve just run together a bit over the years. So that makes thirteen auditions, and this last one makes fourteen. That’s a lot of candidates I’ve heard over the years. Every time I listen to auditions, however, I always learn something important about the audition process and my own playing.

There is a common misconception that one must play a note-perfect audition in order to win. That would be a nice, start, but I’ve found that this is rarely the case. Every winner of the auditions that I’ve listened to has done one thing in common: they were very, very good musicians. Listening to them play made me believe what they were doing was the right way to do it, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with what they were doing at the time. They made a powerful case for what they were doing, even if there were flaws in the execution along the way.

By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

One reply on “audition discoveries”

This is reassuring to know; I’m glad to hear that musicianship is high on the priority list, especially in this day and age of blazing technical wizards.

Many people take auditions and are surprised not to advance. They say, “I don’t understand why I didn’t make the next round — I didn’t miss a note!”

Well, there are reasons why they didn’t win, among other things: they weren’t musical, or they obviously hadn’t known certain pieces outside the practice room, or they didn’t have the right sound for that particular orchestra.

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