Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Orchestra Audition

The evening before Gareth started school I took him to his first soccer practice and then we rushed home so I could scarf down some dinner and run back out to an audition for the Seattle Philharmonic. I think it's possible that some of my facebook acquaintances have thought this is a bigger audition, for a paying job. It's an understandable mistake, as some cities have professional orchestras that are Philharmonics. But the big professional orchestra of Seattle is actually the Seattle Symphony. The Seattle Philharmonic is a community orchestra. But, according to what I've heard, it's one of the best community orchestras in the area (the classical station here will sometimes broadcast their concerts). Anyway, their second clarinetist died last fall (very sad - it was a brain tumor and she'd been doing better and then about the time we moved into our house here the tumor started growing again) and they'd had someone subbing in the position for last year but hadn't yet held a formal audition for the seat.

My teacher had been out of town for the three weeks before the audition, and some of the excerpts they were asking for had changed since we'd last had a lesson, meaning we hadn't ever gone over the new excerpts. But I'd found recordings and done my best to get them up to speed on my own. For those who might care about such things, they asked for Beethoven #2, first movement, Beethoven #6, first and third movements, Brahms #2, second and fourth movements, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, and Capriccio Espagnol (I practiced the excerpts from both the 1st and 3rd movements, because I didn't know which they wanted, turned out they wanted the 3rd movement). And I prepared the first movement of Erland von Koch's Monologue 3, which is for solo clarinet.

There was one person before me and one after. Not sure if there were any more as I left after I was done. While waiting for the first candidate to warm up I sat and chatted with a vocalist who will be singing with the orchestra in the spring. Unfortunately this left my throat rather dry and I'd stupidly not thought to bring a water bottle with me. I managed to get over this while warming up though. I was a bit thrown by realizing I'd be standing up for the audition. Back in my high school or college days this wouldn't have fazed me, as I practiced standing up quite often. But it's been a long time since I've played standing up, so I was not happy to notice a slight change in my tone quality while standing.

The audition went quite well. Of course, immediately afterward I mostly focused on the negative things: I got too soft too fast here and so those notes didn't speak, I fumbled this passage here, the sight reading was dreadful, and so on. But the vocalist pointed out a lot of good things about my audition and said that at that point I'd be her pick. So by the time I left I was feeling better about it and in reality it was a pretty solid audition. I felt that no matter what happened, I'd be happy with how I'd played. Later that night I got an email letting me know about a rehearsal venue change for the next night, but that just left me uncertain as it wasn't a definitive, "yes, you've got the spot" and they could've sent the information to everyone who auditioned.

Ryan at times seemed more anxious than I did to find out, but that might've been because Gareth and Malcolm had been little nightmares while I was gone. He even jokingly said at one point that I shouldn't audition for such things because then I might actually get in. When he saw that an email had come from the personnel manager the next morning, he brought my phone to me right away. I got the seat, and the manager said some very nice things about my playing. Ryan, while not terribly excited about the prospect of a second night in a row alone with the kids (and for a much longer stretch as the rehearsal was a good half hour away), was very excited for me. And a bit jealous because I have several musical groups I participate in now and he doesn't have any yet. I haven't played in orchestra since graduating in 2006, so it was exciting news for me as well. Orchestra has always been my love, so it feels wonderful to be in one again.

9 comments:

Alanna said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! That's fantastic! I'm so glad that you'll get to be doing something you love so much!

It made me laugh to read about the specifics of your audition. I remember once talking to Craig (who took drumming lessons for years) about my voice lessons. He seemed to think that all voice lessons would entail would be learning to read music. I pointed out to him that that was like me thinking drumming lessons was just about clapping out a rhythm. It's fun to see all the thinking that goes into playing the clarinet, since I know nothing about it-- it's so cool how every thing out there, the more you learn, the more there is to learn!

Congratulations again!!!! If my Mom ever goes, I'll have to tell her to look for you!

Myrna said...

That is awesome, Erin! Congratulations!

Amy Rose said...

Congratulations! Have fun!!

Andrea said...

Yay congrats! I am glad you get to play in an orchestra again, I know that is the only way I seem to practice. I lack motivation until I am playing in something.

Momof8 said...

Congratulations! I hope to be able to attend one of your concerts some day. Thanks for sharing your audition story. It's nice to know that Ryan is as excited about your getting in as you are!

Marianne said...

Congratulations!!! That's so awesome. Good for you for keeping up with your playing.

I hope you really, really enjoy doing this, it sounds like it's going to be great fun!

Aye Spy said...

Awesome, congrats! :) I'm glad it all turned out so well.

Susan said...

Congrats to you! I hope you enjoy it!

Kristine Nielson said...

Hip hip, hooray! That's awesome!