The Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal trumpet, David Bilger, has many outlets for sharing his experience and wisdom with other musicians: he has his own blog, he has teaching positions at The Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University, and he just wrapped up a two-year stint as “William F. and Pamela P. Prokasy Professor in the Arts” at the University of Georgia (which Phil Smith, the New York Philharmonic’s retiring Principal Trumpet, will soon be taking over from him).
So it is not surprising that he agreed to take some questions on Jens Lindemann’s Facebook page. Every week, Mr. Lindemann — the former Canadian Brass trumpeter and current UCLA professor — has a segment he calls “Tip Tuesdays” where well-known pros answer questions from the internet masses.
Yesterday, Mr. Bilger answered nine questions in detail (all of them worth reading HERE). Three of them dealt with auditioning, and one of the statements jumped out at me immediately. It may seem obvious to some, but is still something that is worth highlighting and repeating, and applies to any orchestral audition, regardless of instrument:
Question 3: Mr. Bilger, What do you think truly made the difference to the audition committee when they selected you to be principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra?
“ . . . I also wondered about ‘Why me,’ and back in the day, asked members of the audition committee. Really, it came down to the committee and the Maestro finding the sound and musical concept that they thought would work best with the overall sound and traditions of the orchestra. I do think that my sound works very well with both the woodwind and string sound of the orchestra, which I think was the committee’s goal. I am also very conscious about when the trumpet’s role is one of sonic leadership, when it is collaborative, and when it is purely subordinate. There were a bunch of players in the finals who played as well, but at the end of the day, they felt my concept was a better fit. . . .” (David Bilger, Dec 2, 2013: Jen’s Lindemann’s Facebook Page)
Another interesting response had to do with preparations for auditions away from the trumpet, especially how he utilizes listening to recordings:
Question 4: To those who are currently on the audition trail, what are some strategies away from the trumpet that can further prepare someone for a successful audition?
“. . . It isn’t enough to simply listen to your favorite recording of a piece, because conductors frequently have players do things that are far from standard, and those idiosyncrasies make their way onto recordings. You have to check out several recordings to fully prepare. Listening can also really help you understand the subtleties of an excerpt, including the orchestration. For, me, I try to find, through listening, musical cues that can assist me in setting tempi and deciding on what color to make on the horn.” (David Bilger, Dec 2, 2013: Jen’s Lindemann’s Facebook Page)
Photo credit: courtesy of artistworks.com