Monday, August 20, 2007

You might be surprised how happy you'd be....

I didn't play the audition Saturday. It was for a very small chamber orchestra, and the only reason I wanted to play it was to get to know the concertmaster. He's the prof at a small liberal arts college with a beautiful campus, a college where I would dig teaching. It occurred to me I should just send him my resume and maybe offer some free coaching to his kids, since playing an audition when it's pretty much impossible to make any of the concerts is not the way to endear yourself to anyone in an organization.

There's also that whole mysterious phenomenon where the true outsider sometimes is given more credit than somebody who has been willing to serve in a group even though it may not be their dream job, artistically. The new guy- the unknown rockstar with a fancy resume- is more likely to be given respect than whatever mortal folks shared a stand with all year who is secretly overqualified. Nepotism is a tricky game, and I'm trying to learn that whole "the gigs you accept define your level" thing.

I'm still planning to do the audition in the middle of next month because it's for a principal position. It's two hours from home, but my parents live halfway there so it's doable.

I once got really pissed off at a conductor I knew who tried to convince me that a large regional orchestra (B-level, per service but decent pay type of gig) is often a very happy career choice.

I remember being insulted because A) this guy was truly born free of tact and could have made you mad while giving you a publisher's clearing house check and B) because I was in the middle of my masters degree at a conservatory with the goal of getting a job in an A-level symphony, with a salary and benefits and hoards of adoring fans; did he mean to say he thought I'd better lower my hopes, and fast? The nerve!

So auditioning for this, and wanting this job sort of chafes, y'know? I haven't given up on an A-level job, but there is exactly one orchestra I can go for now and still be where I want to live. They don't even have an opening this year, and I've very reluctantly had to take work that will interfere with subbing much. The average orchestral musician spends 3-5 years bopping all over the country to every audition before landing their first job. I am narrowing those odds further by wanting just ONE job. And having kids and not being under regular tutelage makes it even less likely to go my way. It's kind of ridiculous, really.

In the Portland area, there really are not so many opportunities for teaching or playing chamber music. I'm on the faculty at one college, but am not sure what direction to go in next. What happened to the classical music scene here? Perhaps it just never really coalesced in the first place, maybe Portlanders are so socialist as to associate great arts with elitism, I don't know. There is no great music school here to teach in (apparently PSU has had potential at times but suffers poor funding), and once talented kids hit college they flee in exactly the same way people ran from my tiny hometown in the frozen north. It's a shame- Portland is definitely big enough to have some great students and institutions beyond the Youth Symphony.

It's not that I'm unhappy, it's just that I'm being made happy by things I never would have anticipated. It makes me wonder exactly who I'll be five, ten years out.

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