Auditioning for the Berlin Philharmonic

1992
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The Noble Viola has recanted an interesting dialogue at Polyphonic.org where Berlin Philharmonic hornist Fergus McWilliam gave insight into the BP audition process.

The dialogue begins with what more-or-less amounts to a mission statement:

1. The vacancy belongs to the orchestra. In no way is it the property of the public domain. The orchestra is not obligated to fill a position once it has been advertised and we reserve the right not to select anyone at an audition. In my time we have more than once taken over eight years to find the right person.

2. We, the members, know pretty well what we are looking/listening for:
we know our collective sound, our musical language, our collective artistic personality. The audition is not therefore primarily a contest between competitors for a gold medal. Much more importantly, we search for the “right” musician, not necessarily only the “best” player.

3. The orchestra decides who is chosen – all musician-members vote on the basis of one musician – one vote. Neither a select audition committee, nor principal players, nor the concerned section and certainly not the conductor controls the audition decision. Tenure is also granted by the orchestra membership alone, based on a secret vote.

It offers a glimpse into an interesting mindset from a few years ago … perhaps some old ghosts are in there?

Read more here.

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