Fun with audition ads

I’ve been reading audition ads in the International Musician for a long time now, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that caused me to scratch my head quite as hard as the one placed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in the September 2009 issue of the IM for “Viola Substitute Pool.”

I’ve seen ads in Local newsletters for sub auditions, of course – but why in the IM, and why for just violas? Don’t they have a violin substitute pool, and a cello substitute pool, and a few other substitute pools as well, that need refilling? Have the violists been kicked out of every other pool in Philly? Or maybe it’s just a very elaborate viola joke.

There were a couple of other ads that had interesting aspects. The ad for the Malaysian Philharmonic listed enough openings listed that it was reminiscent of the famous (and no doubt apocryphal) ad that began “Established string quartet seeking to hire two violinists and cellist.” The SPCO advertised for a rotating violinist; isn’t playing the violin standing still hard enough? And I didn’t know the New York Phil had a “principal Wagner tuba” position, although it’s also the associate principal horn job. I’ll have to figure out an additional title for our assistant principal viola job; perhaps “head viola pool cleaner” would be an attractive opening for some ambitious young multi-tasker.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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