Maybe sometimes. But my orchestra recently conducted a few inconclusive auditions, including one last week that involved about 125 candidates. Although I can’t comment on actual audition results or discussions, these episodes did get me thinking (again) about how antiquated and inefficient the orchestral audition process can seem in today’s high-tech world. Unusually, I was not on any of the recent audition committees, but was of course aware of the painstaking process at hand, having been through it many times (on both sides of the screen, by the way). The audition last week involved some 21 hours of preliminaries. Perhaps it is finally time to examine possible alternative procedures that don’t involve 125 people flying in to play for ten or twelve minutes apiece.
How about Skype for preliminaries? Or maybe just a live recording? Before the traditionalists barrage me with email, consider the massive advances in audio and bandwidth technology just over the last five years. Yes, audio on Skype can be spotty, and there will always be issues with anonymity and “live” vs. “recorded”. But isn’t it time to explore some options?
One intriguing alternative was presented by my colleague Robert Levine on a polyphonic.org discussion a few years ago. Basically, he proposes that a consortium of “member groups” act as remote sites for each others’ preliminary auditions. The audition would be recorded “live” with the list played straight through, then processed instantly. Although Rob proposes using CDs and snail-mailing, with today’s technology these audio files could be labeled and immediately emailed for a committee to evaluate.
It’s pretty clear what the advantages are- no one would be flying around, anonymity and the “live” audition would be preserved, and auditions could almost certainly be scheduled more frequently. Semis and finals could have predetermined dates, with perhaps a number of “preliminary” recording times leading up to them (instead of one cattle-call day, followed by semis/finals the next).
Admittedly, this could be tricky from an administrative perspective, at least at first. And there would be expenses relating to recording, etc. But it seems to me those costs would be minimal in comparison to what occurs now, not to mention the hassle and time involved flying all over the place instead of just emailing an audio file.
And if I can teach a Skype violin lesson, isn’t is possible that the same technology might somehow work for orchestra auditions as well?
Hopefully someday soon.