Posted by: Nice Melons | October 17, 2007

Audition Time

Well, this weekend fast approaches like an out-of-control bobsled.  I have my first national audition in a long, long time.  Not being someone who does things in small increments, it is of course with a big symphony orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Doh!  Sometimes I wonder where my head is.  Oh well – you can win if you don’t play, huh? 

Am I ready?  Well, I know the repertoire.  I’ve been practicing pretty steadily for the past 2 months since the audition was announced.  Auditions are funny, though, and not necessarily in a ha-ha kind of way.   It’s really weird to sit behind a screen and play a section part.  It’s certainly not an easy feat to make music without the rest of the section there, so for the most part, you’re going for accuracy.  Sometimes you get an opportunity in the final round to play with the section, but not always.  Sometimes they pick a few people to try out over the course of the next season before they make their decision.  Many of my pals scratch their heads over this, but when you’re talking about an orchestra like the LA Phil, I would imagine that this would be totally acceptable.  Keep in mind that this position probably pays close to six figures a year, if not six figures.  Over the course of a musician’s lifetime, many stay in that orchestra for their musical lifetime, which can be as long as thirty years – or more, depending at what age they were when they got their dream job.  Think about the financial commitment that orchestra has to make to that individual… so, of course they want to choose as wisely as possible. 

The way I see it, and I could be wrong, but it’s more than being just a top-notch musician that lands you that primo job.  You have to share a common goal with others in your section, and the overall ensemble.  You’ve got to play well with others, and not just musically… you’ve got to get along with others in your section and the entire ensemble.  There’s a whole dynamic involved here that definitely needs further contemplation in another blog, but if you check out the Horndog Blog section on group karma and you’ll get the general idea.

I’ve made the finals several times, but never have been lucky enough to win an full-time orchestral position.  The full-time work I’ve done over the course of several years revolved around the music recording industry as well as musical theater.  Being an excellent sight-reader comfortable in virtually any style of music set me up pretty well for that career. 

 Why orchestra auditions now?  Freelancing is a pain.  You fall off the radar for five minutes and you become an unknown again.  Illness?  Forget it.  The politics are unreal.  Plus, everyone is so freaking wound up in getting the next gig coming down the pike and making sure they stay at the top of the on-call list that there is very little music being made. 

 Now I’m on the other end of the spectrum, trying to make music work with a day job in my hometown.  I am reminded on almost a daily basis why I wanted to leave those many years ago, and one of the things I’m working on is taking as many auditions as possible.  I am tired a lot.  Day job and practicing at night leaves very little time left for anything else.

Anyway, that being said, blogging helps.  But now I’ve got to get back to the practice grind so I don’t lose my game.  Thanks for stopping by. 

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