Sunday, June 13, 2004

Why don't you just play in the symphony?

Quite often my wife gets asked this, by people who just don't understand. Hopefully this great article in today's Indianapolis Star will make them more aware of the high stakes competition in the orchestral world, especially for trumpet. It is a very well written article, full of insider tidbits about excerpts, different trumpets, and the process from application to waiting room to warmup area to the stage. We know some of these people, like David Leon, Dan Gosling, and Jennifer Marotta (fiancée of the winner). The print version has a picture of Mark Schubert, 2nd trumpet in the Honolulu Symphony, whom I studied with at the Brevard Music Center.

Note that 286 people applied, of which 148 were invited, about a 50% selection rate just to get your foot in the door. Only 65 people confirmed (this means they sent in a $75 deposit to hold their audition spot. If they don't show up, they lose the deposit.) So over half the invited applicants decided they weren't ready. A final five didn't show up, probably illness or other last minute changes to their schedules.

Sixty people auditioned in the first round. Seven were advanced to the second round, with two more advanced automatically to the final round along with the interim player, so a cut of 85%. Of the seven in the second round, one advanced to the final round. Four people played in the finals, and Tom Hooten was chosen unanimously to be the new 3rd trumpet/assistant principal trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. I look forward to hearing him play with the ISO next season, and congratulate him on his success.

This article is rather unusual, both for its level of detail and accuracy, and for being prominantly featured on the front page of the Sunday paper. The author, Whitney Smith, regarded the story as "an opportunity to engage readers who might not regularly listen to classical music." (Pam Fine, Managing Editor) The print version has lots of photos, and includes two additional articles by Smith on the winner and the prospects of the other candidates featured in the main article (Fenson, Gosling, Still, Miller, Larsen, and Hall). This is a great way to reach larger audiences, by showing how hard the musicians work for their jobs and to personalize the concert-going experience more. Thumbs up to both Whitney Smith and to the Indianapolis Star.

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