Is Now The Time To Revamp The Audition Process?

Holly Mulcahy published an article at Neo Classical about audition requirements. It serves as a follow-up to something she wrote in 2018 on the topic and spoiler alert: not much has changed for the better.

“Over the last four years, the social justice movement has had a positive influence on the way orchestras approach programming while some are producing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) statements.

As we head towards what we think is the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel of this pandemic, orchestras are once again sending out auditions and job opening announcements.


Even though I’ve only hit the repertoire lists of orchestras advertising in the January International Musician magazine, it was a fair representation of things to come…. which seems to be more of the same. With the exception of Philadelphia Orchestra’s Associate Concertmaster audition list, which included one work by a living female composer, Gabriela Lena Frank, every other orchestra’s list was standard as ever.”

There’s a fascinating discussion unfolding on her Facebook wall that really got me thinking. So much so that I plan on writing something next week about how and why audition repertoire is connected to the larger audition process (and you can’t address either as mutually exclusive goals). In the meantime, swing by Mulcahy’s post to begin thinking through these issues.

Your Orchestra Says It’s Progressive, Your Auditions Requirements Say Otherwise: 2022 Update

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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