Auditioning. The word strikes terror into the hearts of young orchestral players, but I actually kind of love it. It's fun to go to a new city, find the neighborhood hangs, and see the sights. It's fun to look around and try to imagine myself moving there. It's fun to prepare excerpts to the highest possible level and perform them on the beautiful stages that other symphonies get to use all the time. And it's fun to do well and make the finals, even if I don't win.
It's a lot less fun, though, to lose right from the prelims. And the expense of the endeavor is getting a little old. Actually, I'm getting a little old. I always used to see friends at these events, and enjoyed the chance to catch up with old school buddies. Now everyone seems to be younger than I am.
It's not that everyone else in my generation already has big jobs - many don't. Many are less established than I am, or have moved on to different careers. Some have decided to be content with where they are and to reject the audition scene. But I am too stubborn for that, and too ambitious, and maybe too stupid.
I like where I am. I like being in demand as a freelancer and secure in my orchestras. I love giving regular recitals and occasional concertos and I enjoy teaching. But I still think I can be more.
I am really, really good at what I do. I am talented, smart, dedicated, and self-disciplined. I work all the time. I am always striving to improve. I am 36 years old and I have been making my living as a professional musician for 14 years. I have paid my dues. Why on earth am I still paying for my own lousy health insurance? Why am I not famous?
I genuinely believe that I am ready to play in a full-time orchestra. If I could win one of these mythical positions I could do it well. I could use my increased visibility to continue my advocacy for classical music, and for new oboe works. I could seize inspiration from the great playing all around me and become even better. All I want is the chance to work at a higher level. Just an opportunity to step up.
So I don't plan to stop auditioning. Not this year. It's a game, and someone has to win, eventually. Perhaps next time it will be me!