Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Klarinet Archive - Posting 000953.txt from 1998/04

From: "Ginsuransom" <>
Subj: re: National Symphony Second Clarinet Audition
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998 19:19:17 -0400

On April 16 Jonathan Cohler wrote:

>I don't believe your list above is correct. I know, for example, that the
>Boston Symphony hears people who want to audition.

>Which of those exclude based on resume alone?

Dear Mr. Cohler-

I can tell you from experience that the Boston Symphony DOES NOT
automatically hear people who want to audition. They screen resumes and ask
for tapes from a good portion of the applicants. In my case, for their most
recent second clarinet audition, I was asked to submit a tape- Since I was
out of the country and could not record the required excerpts by the
deadline, I called them to remind them that they had invited me directly to
the audition for their principal clarinet audition two years before (go
figure!!)- But this time, they said they were contractually bound to hold
the prelims and semi-finals on the same day, so they had to limit the number
of applicants, so I still had to send a tape.

Since I was unable to send in the tape, I told them I planned on coming to
Boston to take the audition anyway- They told me they really didn't think
that was a good idea- I told them I thought it was a VERY good idea. They
told me I would not be allowed in the building and would be forced to wait
at the guard desk by the stage door entrance. I told them that that is
where they would find me. I showed up, kept reminding them I was there,
they kept putting me off, saying they just weren't sure if they would have
time to hear me. Finally, after about five hours of waiting, they said I
could come in to the warm up room- As soon as I entered the warm-up room
they said, "if you want to audition, you have to put your clarinet together
and audition immediately, or else the committee can't hear you." So, I got
to warm up on Symphony Hall stage in front of the committee. I guess this
would have been a pretty great story if I had gotten the job, but think
under those conditions my already slim chances pretty much went out the

I imagine that orchestras must really struggle over how to run their
auditions. I agree with you in theory that everyone who wants to be heard
should be heard. But, as others have pointed out, there are other practical
issues to take into consideration: Sometimes there are not enough free days
in a row to hear two or three hundred auditioners. (I can't imagine holding
one round of prelims one week then waiting a week to do another round of
prelims--That way you would be asking candidates who advanced to fly
themselves back AGAIN for the ensuing rounds)- Some orchestras solve the
problem by using split committees- Having two sets of auditions going on at
the same time. I personally feel this is the absolute worst way to handle
auditions- In such instances, it is inevitable that one committee is hearing
players in the hall, while another is hearing players in an entirely
different (and often terrible) acoustic. Not only that, but it often ends
up that one committee ends up advancing a fairly large number of candidates,
while the other committee doesn't advance anyone, simply because of one a
different set of standards.

The fairest compromise I know of came at a recent Los Angeles Philharmonic
audition. They made it clear that anyone who wanted to audition was allowed
to come. However, they also specified that only THREE excerpts would be
asked, and they specified which bars from those excerpts would be asked. In
essence, they were stating up front that each audition would probably only
last about three or four minutes. That way, everyone knew how little they
would get to play and had to decide if they wanted to come or not.

Your complaints about the system are fair; However, I can't agree when you
state this situation is another sign of the decline of classical music. To
that, I can only imagine how upset you would have been in the "old days",
when orchestras never even announced a vacancy- they simply had their
principal player call up a few other students and other players, have them
come in to the conductor's office and start playing. Back then, if you
didn't have the connection, you definitely never even got in the door.

In your situation with the National Symphony, I would suggest several
things, if your student is intent on taking the audition. Have the student
cordially write the personnel manager and ask the committee to reconsider
their decision. If they do not reconsider, have the student inform them
that he/she plans on attending the audition no matter what, and they would
love an opportunity to be heard. If it comes to that, you must weigh the
orchestra's response and decide if you want to take the financial risk of
travelling to DC and possibly not being heard.

Let us know how this issue is finally resolved!

Good luck,
Gary Ginstling

     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact