When Benjamin Jaber first sat in the principal chair of the San Diego Symphony’s horn section two years ago, he immediately felt at ease. “It just clicked,” he said. But it wasn’t until he sat on an audition committee considering the principal oboe candidates that he realized the uniqueness of his situation.
“Most of the principal winds, a couple of the brass and the strings were there, and in the discussion and interaction it was clear we were really all on the same page,” Jaber said. “We were on the same wavelength, looking for the same things. It was really smooth. That’s when I knew it’s a really cool thing that we have here.”
Music director Jahja Ling has assembled an ensemble remarkable in its mixture of youth and experience, its diversity, its talent, but most of all, its attitude and the degree of interaction between its musicians.
“It’s always a challenge to work with everybody when people are so committed and passionate and obviously have strong opinions,” said Sarah Skuster, who won that audition and just finished her first season in the critical role of principal oboe. “But I feel like in this orchestra it’s very collaborative. People really look out for each other. There’s a lot of respect, and that’s not always the case.”
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Oh … but about this paragraph:
A 1997 Harvard study found the job satisfaction of symphony players to be just below “federal prison guards” and just above “industrial production teams.” And that was the glory years of American orchestras. Since then, musicians in numerous orchestras have had their pay slashed, weeks of employment cut, and, in places like Detroit, their livelihoods threatened.
My job satisfaction is actually much higher. The only dissatisfaction I have is with my reeds or my own deficiencies. Truly. I’m so thankful to have the job I have. As I tweeted after our Saturday night concert: “I am so blessed to have the job I do & I have one of the best seats in the house too! I need to stop whining. But I probably never will.”