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What it Takes to Land a Major Symphony Job

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William “Bill” Lucas joined the trumpet section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1988 bringing versatility and a flair for jazz. He has served on musicians’ Orchestra, Education and Negotiating Committees.  Bill has a national reputation for coaching musicians in the art of audition preparation and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Michigan School of Music where he teaches jazz trumpet.

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What does it take to land a job in a major American symphony orchestra such as the Detroit Symphony? Or the Philharmonics of Los Angeles and New York? Or the Symphonies of Boston or Chicago?

Like most corporations, gaining entry into a symphony orchestra involves a process of scrutiny. In the business world, we know this process as the job interview, which involves both a mailed resume and the subsequent in-person interview itself. But in the symphony orchestra world, while resumes are still mailed, the interview is replaced by what is known as an audition. These auditions are attended by musicians from all over the world, and, consistently, boast a candidate pool of several hundred for a single opening. So to understand how a musician becomes a tenured member of a top-ten orchestra, one must first have a look at the audition process itself. (more…)

Tools of the Trade

Posted August 19, 2010

 

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Patricia Masri-FletcherM.M. The Juilliard School, has been Principal Harpist of the DSO since 1988, She also holds the positions of Instructor of Harp at Michigan State University, Professor of Harp at Madonna University, Life Member of the American Harp Society and Life Memeber of the World Harp Congress.

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One of the most inevitable questions I get about the Harp is: “How much does that thing cost?” I used to ask people to guess. Not anymore. Most people take a step back from my instrument when I tell them that my Italian-made Salvi Minerva (affectionately named “ Tall Red”) now sells for $47,000.

For the professional musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), our instruments are the tools of our job. Each musician is responsible for providing his own instrument, except for the piano, celesta, and much of the percussion,  which is owned by the DSO.

Every craftsman owns tools for his job. An on-site carpenter needs his own tool belt, including hammer, wire cutters, pliers, nail pouch, tape measure, carpenters (flat) pencils, etc. (more…)

Meadow Brook Remembered

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Beatriz Budinszky (Staples), now retired,  became a member of the Detroit Symphony’s violin section in 1964. She has been an active member of the orchestra participating on the Artistic Advisory Committee and the Volunteer Council.  Bea completed her master’s degree at the University of Hartford.

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As do most major American orchestras, the DSO, at one time, was fortunate to have a beautiful summer home.  On the grounds of Oakland University, Baldwin Pavilion was given to Oakland University by Matilda Dodge Wilson with the intent that it would be the summer home of the DSO and the nucleus of a major performing arts center.  Nestled amidst gently rolling hills, the pavilion is a natural amphitheater with superb acoustics in a picturesque setting. (more…)

How Does a Violinist Get a Job in The DSO?

 

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Elayna Duitman now plays as a member of the Cleveland Orchestra. In the DSO, she served on the musicians’ string, orchestra, pension, and audition committees. She received her master’s degree from the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the Netherlands.

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When I tell people that I am a violinist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a very common question I hear is, “How much do you have to practice every week?” Of course, when an orchestra ‘practices’ together it’s called a rehearsal and we generally have four rehearsals a week (in addition to three to five concerts). But we also spend a lot of time preparing our parts for rehearsal and practicing just to stay in condition. And this practicing and learning process doesn’t start right before the audition to join the DSO, or even during high school or college; most musicians begin training at a very young age. It would be impossible for a high school senior with no musical training to decide to be a music major in college, because the requirements to be accepted into a music program are extensive and the competition to get into a good program is intense. It would not be too late to decide to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer, diplomat, police officer, or nurse during a post-secondary education, but a violinist needs to be an extremely accomplished player just to be accepted into a competitive music school or conservatory. (more…)