02. October 2012 · Comments Off on The State of the Orchestra · Categories: Read Online

A word of caution to orchestra boards: While it may be true that the level of playing has never been higher among young graduates, there is an important gulf between technical mastery of an instrument and being a musician. If the Philadelphia Orchestra held auditions today for principal oboist – no, Richard Woodhams isn’t leaving – dozens could be found to play the notes in time, in tune, and with a reasonable feel for performance tradition.

How many would be able to match Woodhams’ charisma? Perhaps none. Multiply the potential loss if a dozen players departed, and what we would be left with is a generic “other” – something less than the Philadelphia Orchestra. We’ve lost a handful already. The integrity of the ensemble teeters on a fine edge.

This article is full of interesting items. This one above is so darn true. I hear young players and I’m blown away by their talent, but they don’t have the experience, and frequently there is still something missing. Time and experience are necessary to understand what is needed to make the “magic”. (It’s not really magic so much as hard work, talent, an understanding of line and timing … and more, of course.) Playing an amazing audition doesn’t mean one will play well with others, or play a solo well when on stage with a full house. We never know until we know how someone will work out.

What will it say about a country of 313 million if it can’t find a way for a little more than 2,000 musicians to make enough money to exist without moonlighting? The free-market system may or may not be wise, but it is so far deaf to this question.

I don’t “moonlight”, but of course I combine a bunch of things to make this life work for me. (And no, I’m not one of the “little more than 2,000 musicians” he is writing about.) Symphony. Opera. Chamber Music. UCSC. Private Studio. Ballet. Freelance. I love the variety, and I love my work. Even when I whine. Shoot, I whine well, so I guess I love to whine too! 😉

Anyway, read the article. It’s interesting. At least to me.


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