The bulk of the story follows Michael Tetreault, a Colorado musician who is trying to fill one of the two vacancies in the BSO’s percussion section. There is also time spent with Lee Vinson, whose recent departure from the orchestra created one of the open seats for which Mr. Tetreault was vying.
The generalities discussed in the article about auditioning for a major orchestra will not be new to anyone who is familiar with the process. Indeed, every city with a professional orchestra sees their local press publish one article of this kind every decade or so. In this case, you have to look past the lopsided boosterism for the BSO in Jennie Dorris’s writing: she rightly touts the orchestra’s artistic merit, wonderful hall, and large endowments; but conveniently ignores the fact that it’s missing a Music Director since its last one has had to step down after multiple injury-plagued and cancellation-filled seasons, and it has no obvious prospects to take over any time soon.
If you’re willing to take that and a bit more with a pinch of salt, it’s compelling — and a little sad — to read about these two particular musician’s travails. Mr. Tetreault’s regimen in preparation for his big audition seems a tad extreme, but it seems to follow the writer’s notion of the orchestra: the orchestra is so extremely good that even extreme audition prep may not be good enough. There are also some interesting quotes from a retired BSO percussionist about his own audition back in the day.
The full article can be found HERE. If it doesn’t load right away, or if the subsequent pages give you an error message, be patient and try again in a minute. I’m guessing Boston is getting more hits on this article than they expected, and their servers are having a hard time handling it.
UPDATE (6/30/2012): conductor Kenneth Woods has a lengthy response on his blog (HERE), with interesting contributions in the comments section given by Mr. Tetreault himself (beginning HERE) comparing the differences in getting an orchestral job in the US vs. the UK.