audition logic?

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by BAM, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. BAM

    BAM New Friend

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Anyone want to explain to me the logic behind asking Schmuyle, Xmas oratorio, and the high c lick in the end of Bartok concerto in the same round of a 2ND TRUMPET audition? Just curious if anybody else thinks this is a bit extreme. I guess I could justify it in a principal audition, although two picc. excerpts in the same round seems odd as it is used rather seldomly in orchestra.

    BAM
     
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Forte User

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    I guess if they want a good second player, they should be asking for difficult second trumpet excerpts.......

    Otherwise they will get a second trumpet player who really wants to be a lead player, and he/she will make the current lead player's life miserable.

    I read a quote one time from a famous principal player (whose name escapes me at the moment). He said his idea of the "perfect" second trumpet player is someone who was NOT looking for a principal position.

    Bam, which orchestra was this?

    M.
     
  3. No BS

    No BS New Friend

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    There is no logic...How 'bout this 1st. round at a recent 2nd. trumpet audition:

    solo
    2 licks from "The Soldiers Tale"
    Pines offstage

    ..just trying to weed people out I guess...
     
  4. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

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    Here comes a history lesson-
    In the not to distant past auditions were unheard of,and the players in the orchestra had no input in personnel matters.
    In other words the conductor ran the show. Players were hired, unheard by the baton-wielders, sometimes this produced a disaster!
    With the union and players getting stronger auditions were starting to be held for positions in the orchestras.
    In the name of fairness, auditions were held behind screens.
    For the first time women and minority players were given a fair shot, or so they said.
    The process is still young and imperfect.
    One of my teachers was considered one of the best second trumpet player ever............ he refused to play 1st trumpet. He would not be able to get out of the preliminary rounds.
    Orchestras are learning how to hold auditions and what to ask.....I hope.
    Wilmer
     
  5. bulldog

    bulldog Pianissimo User

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    Nov 11, 2003
    mikey, i think hes talking about the richmond symphony. the list was all first trumpet excerpts except for the bartok concerto. the first round was promenade, ballerinas dance and waltz, mahler 5 and if they liked you, the 2nd parsifal excerpt. the baltimore list was more 2nd trumpet oriented, although it included things such as the shostakovich piano concerto.
     
  6. Nonsense Eliminator

    Nonsense Eliminator New Friend

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    Nov 2, 2003
    I think it's important to remember not only what Wilmer said, but also how auditions are run and what committees are looking for. Sometimes, particularly on final rounds, conductors will have input on what's asked. I know of a couple of auditions in the last little while where conductors have requested some pretty bizarre things. So sometimes that may figure in it. Also, for a smaller orchestra that only has two trumpets, it may well be that the second trumpet is sometimes expected to step up and play first, if only when then principal is away or when there are both trumpet and cornet parts. There are even some larger orchestras where the second trumpet is the guy who steps in for the principal. And then there could be situations where a second player has either been relied on to play certain things in the past, or was completely incapable of doing those things, so a committee is anxious to make sure that whomever they hire is capable of doing those things.

    A second trumpet may not often be expected to play principal on Bach, but he may be expected to assist; and he will certainly be required to play some not-inconsequential second parts, so evaluating piccolo chops isn't unreasonable. A second trumpet probably won't have to play Schmuyle, but he may be asked to take over in the middle. And so on. Finally, one aspect that can be difficult to evaluate in an audition is endurance, and some committees might feel that piling on the piccolo excerpts is a good way to evaluate that.

    I want to emphasize that I have NO inside knowledge about the Richmond audition or any other recent auditions. I'm just offering up some pure speculation. Yes, there are certainly some skills that are unique to second trumpet players. I wouldn't hire a second trumpet without thoroughly evaluating his or her low register. However, musicianship, pitch, and time are absolute requirements for every chair and it's probably more convenient for the committee AND the candidates to evaluate that through first parts.
     
  7. BAM

    BAM New Friend

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Mikey- This was asked at the second round of Richmond. NE, very good points...I would guess that the conductor probably just wanted to seperate the men from the boys, as there were 9 people in the semis. Just seems like with a list like that, you may not get the right person for the 2nd trpt. job. A few years ago, I took an audition for princ. trpt in a small regional orchestra, and was asked to play Schmuyle in both rounds only a few hours apart from each other. ALso asked was: Posthorn, Bartok finale first trpt. etc. Now I suppose this could be logical as it is a 1st trpt. audition, but it has been my experience that the smaller orchestras tend to ask more chop challenging rounds, as maybe they are just trying to weed people out instead of looking for the best musician... Just my 2 cents worth.

    BAM
     
  8. romey1

    romey1 Banned

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    Oct 25, 2003
    out
     
  9. Nonsense Eliminator

    Nonsense Eliminator New Friend

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    Nov 2, 2003
    I don't think it's entirely accurate to make sweeping generalizations comparing small and large orchestras. I have heard plenty of stories about goofy auditions, and seen plenty of goofy lists, coming from orchestras of all sizes. It is certainly true that some committees seem to be counting notes and expecting the second coming of Bud Herseth; however, I don't think it's just small orchestras that are in that situation. It just seems more ridiculous when they do it, so we notice it more.

    I would submit that in many cases small orchestras have better justfication for their goofy lists than one might think. For instance, the BSO is known for being fairly selective about whom they invite, so they can safely assume that the candidates haven't spent every waking hour for the last five years practicing the same twelve excerpts. The Podunk Philharmonic doesn't always have that luxury, so they have to make sure that they weed out the wankers in the audition process.

    Also, in some cases players in smaller orchestras face demands that are at least as extreme as those faced in the big time. For starters, the principal trumpet may be expected to play all the pops material, which may or may not be the case in major orchestras. Also, smaller orchestras often make do with reduced instrumentations, and often can't afford to hire assistants. It's not too hard to imagine situations where in the Big Time the principal trumpet would take the first half off and have an assistant for the second half -- with no extra expense since there are three or four players under contract anyway. In the Podunk Philharmonic, the principal player may well be expected to suck it up and play the whole show, with no assistant.

    I think it is fair to say that the major orchestras have better musicians sitting on their committees. Those musicians may well feel more confident that they can spot the wanker playing the Leonore call than a committee composed of less experienced or talented musicians. As well, a major orchestra may be able to expect that a winning candidate have no significant weaknesses. The Podunk Philharmonic probably has to deliberately accept somebody with some shortcomings, so it is important for them to ascertain that those shortcomings are ones they can live with.

    I'm not saying that sometimes committees don't make stupid requests. However, sometimes things which may initially seem ludicrous actually have some grain of logic behind them. I know that when I was preparing my audition for my current position, I was baffled by the amount of really loud and heavy playing required. I mean, this is a ballet orchestra, lots of Sugar Plum Fairies and general flitting about, what's up with that? The list in the first round was a total meat-grinder. It turned out to be completely excessive, and they trimmed it after the first group of candidates. I was wondering what these people were smoking. Then I won the job, and it rapidly became apparent that they had set the audition up the way they did for a very good reason. One of the main requirements for my job is the ability to survive two-show days playing Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, without an assitant, in a pit which is not exactly an ideal acoustic. Stupid as it seemed from the outside looking in, the audition was very well designed to ensure that a winning candidate stood a chance of surviving the actual job.

    Just some food for thought!
     
  10. wiseone2

    wiseone2 Artitst in Residence Staff Member

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    Nov 19, 2003
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    Oh,if it were only true.
    They seem to want a player who sounds like Herseth, never misses, is 20 years old and is incapable of speech(backtalk)
    Audition committees quite often are made up of non-trumpet savvy string players.
    At one audition I played the Concertmaster ran the audition.
    He asked me to play Symphonia Domestica lightly and gaily :lol:
    I asked if he was kidding............wrong question :oops:
    You know I didn't get the gig.
    There should be a master list for every chair in the orchestra, now wouldn't that be nice!
    Wilmer
     

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