Finally being taken seriously!

Wow this week has been busy! I feel like I’m back in school…well, minus the homework. I started rehearsals again with the Virginia Wind Symphony, had craziness and gigs galore at work, and to top it all off I had my audition with the principal clarinetist of the Virginia Symphony, Patti Carlson. The highlight of the week was definitely the audition! It took place at her house, which was nice…I have found that auditions at people’s houses tend to be less stress-y. My navy audition took place at someone’s house (see my previous post about it), and that had a great outcome, obviously.  Anyway, I was actually not that nervous for this audition, I kind of approached it like it was a lesson, and that’s seemed to put less pressure on me.  She was super nice, and actually thanked me for coming out and playing for her.

For the actual audition, I played the Mozart exposition, and considering how little I had practiced it (I kept forgetting to bring the music with me to work) I played it really really well.  Then we started with the excerpts – I had told her I had prepared the “standard fare” and whipped out my Hadcock book.  Started with Brahms 3…including some parts in the first movement which I had not been practicing.  It went fine though, she asked for the A clarinet solos, which I had done before and aren’t that crazy.  Then I played some Beethoven 6…1st movement of course…2nd movement…then she turned to the 3rd movement, the scherzo!  Ack!  I think she sensed my deer in headlights feeling, but I played it anyway.  I played it through once, and then she coached me a little on it, and I played it again and nailed it!  I think that showed her a lot more than just playing it right the first time.  I played some more stuff on the list that I had established in my last post, including Beethoven 8, Mendelssohn scherzo, RK Capriccio, & RK Scherezade.  Pretty much nailed all of it!

So I’m now on the Virginia Symphony sub list, officially!  It feels good to know that I played well enough at the audition that she trusted I could do the job of playing in a professional orchestra.  I’ve never had anyone show me that trust before!  If so, I would have either won jobs, or been on more sub lists.  This shows just how much I’ve improved since I’ve left school, and even since I’ve been in the Navy!  Since I’ve left the college environment, I have done my best to make sure that I don’t take any steps backward in my playing.  I think it has paid off!  And it doesn’t hurt that I get to practice all day.  I love this job!

Youngstown symphony

Last night I auditioned for the Youngstown Symphony in Ohio. It was an interesting experience, mostly because I found out what happens when an orchestra does not plan its audition days very well. Yesterday they not only auditioned for 2nd clarinet, but they auditioned for violin, viola, bassoon and oboe/english horn. I’m sorry, but if you have any sort of common sense, you would not schedule all those auditions in one day!!!! But they did, and they didn’t start the auditions until noon.

So the clarinets were the last group of instruments to go. We were supposed to show up at 5pm to draw numbers, and the first one would go at 5:45. Well obviously that didn’t happen, they were way behind. Surprise, surprise. In fact, the oboes had not even started yet when I showed up at 5! I ended up drawing #14. There was no common warm up room, so I sat waiting for a good hour and a half before I even got led back to a room so I could start warming up. It was ok, I got to chat with some people and read my book and try to focus.

I think I ended up going around 8:30ish. The excerpts in the prelim round was Mozart, Rachmaninov 2, Beethoven 6 2nd movt, and Mendelssohn scherzo. No real surprises there. The proctor said as I was going in that we would play the Mozart then the Rachmaninov and if they were interested in more they would ask for the other excerpts. I played the Mozart pretty well, but then I completely squawked the high D in the Rach 2. I was like, whatev, finish the excerpt and hope that they ask for that spot again. They did, fortunately, but it wasn’t completely clean. Poop. But they let me go on to the Beethoven, woohoo! And then they let me go on to the Scherzo, which I played so-so. Definitely not my best scherzo, hehe. I did walk out feeling like I could have played better….which made me think I probably would not make it. I think if I had aced the repeat of the Rach and the scherzo I would have made it through for sure.

So, they had made some cuts after #12 had gone, so I still had awhile before they made the next cut. 2 people had made it through to the next round from the first group of players. Fast forward an hour and a half, after everyone was finished…they announced 4 numbers that had advanced…mine was not one of them (not surprising to me). But then they say that the committee had changed their minds about the two players who had advanced in the first group and decided that they didn’t want to hear them again. The look on their faces was utter confusion! Immediately I was so pissed for them! I couldn’t believe that the committee had the audacity to pull something like that. I mean, these two had been waiting around for at least 2 1/2 hours to play another round. What a blatant display of disrespect. I lost all respect that I had for the committee. How incredibly unprofessional.

The interesting thing is that I overheard someone telling a story about an audition with Youngstown SO a couple years ago, when the same situation unfolded. The auditions were running extremely late, so the committee sent people home that had initially advanced, without hearing them again. So apparently this must be a common practice for them. Well, maybe you should plan better for your auditions so they don’t run so late, and everyone can have a fair chance!!!

All in all, I’m glad I didn’t advance. Not only did I not want to have anything to do with the orchestra after what they did to those two players, I still had a four hour drive home!!!! I left Youngstown at 10:30, so I didn’t get back to Rochester until 2:30….yuck! And I had to work this morning at 8am. So……I’m tired. I’m going to take a couple days off from practicing, and then I’m going to start working on the next audition…Marine Band, yay! So excited for that audition in January. Now I’m going to bed!

Erie Phil Audition

Finally! Success!! Well sort of, I got runner up at the Erie Phil audition on Thursday. It was awesome, I don’t think I’ve EVER played so well at an audition before!! And it was the first orchestral audition that I’ve made it past the prelims. It was exactly what I needed, especially after the disappointments that I have had over the last few months. It makes me feel like I am actually pursuing the right profession.

The audition was later in the afternoon, which was nice. I took the whole day off of work, so I actually got to sleep in! I definitely appreciate sleeping past 7am now that I work at 8 every day. I carpooled with a friend, and we ended up getting to Erie (which is about 3 hours away from Rochester) about an hour early. So we just went and ate and relaxed a bit. The order of the preliminary round was determined by who got there, so we didn’t want to get there too early!

I ended up being #9, which was right in the middle. I was pretty nervous, but I tried to focus my brain by reading a book and breathing deeply. It totally worked! This is something I have been struggling with for the last 3 or 4 auditions. When I went in to the audition room (which was on stage of an auditorium), I made sure to take 3 deep breaths and focused on getting rid of the “bad stuff”. It really worked, I was able to play relaxed and confidently. The first round was Mozart, Shostakovich 9 3rd movement, and Beethoven 6 second movement. I played the Mozart and the Beethoven really well, but I was a little wary of the Shosty. The excerpt for the Shostakovich was actually past where I had practiced (it ended up being from the beginning of the movement to 9 bars after B!) so I was frantically practicing that part while I was warming up! Luckily they did give us the prelim excerpts in the warm up room. I still completely faked that excerpt, because it really isn’t a good excerpt for me. I first played it waaaaaaaay too fast. But then the committee saved me and asked me to play it again a bit slower. Thank you! It was much cleaner the 2nd time, but there was a lot of faking still going on hehe.

Well apparently it sounded good to the committee because they asked for me to play again in the 2nd round, along with 5 or 6 others. I ended up being first in the order, which ended up being good, because I wasn’t able to get nervous again. I was much more calm in the 2nd round, for sure, but I still took deep breaths before I played each excerpt. I played Pines of Rome and Mendelssohn scherzo in the second round, it was for sure my best round of the day. I used paper underneath my register key for Pines, which made it easier to maintain the soft A. It was nice.

When they announced the results of the 2nd round, I was still thinking that I was #9 for some reason although my number was now #1. So when the proctor announced that the committee wanted to hear #1 and #5 again, I was like, damn! Because I thought I hadn’t made it because I was #9 haha!!! It wasn’t until my friend high fived me that I remembered I was #1!! I can be so blonde sometimes.

So it was down to me and this other guy, Michael, who was from Cleveland. I just went in there and played as well as I could possibly. The excerpts were Shostakovich 9 2nd movement, and Petroushka Peasant and the Bear (!!). I tried to play as out of the box as possible, but I may have played the Shostakovitch too slow and the Stravinsky to loud because they ended up choosing the other guy as the winner. But thats ok! They asked if I would be interested in subbing because they loved my playing. I said YESSSSSS! So I hope that they call me sometime this year, I need some experience!! I really needed to do well at this audition to boost my confidence. The last 6 months or so I have been on somewhat of a downward spiral as far as my playing. I’m glad that my hard work is finally paying off!

Next audition will be Youngstown Symphony in October. I’m still trying to work some magic at my job to get the day off so I can go audition for the Pershings own in November. And I’m still thinking about West Virginia Symphony instead of Pershings, but plane tickets are getting expensive to go there. We will see, I guess!