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Inside An Audition

  • Auditions

With pandemic restrictions lifting, we have had a flurry of auditions here at the WSO!

We’d like to provide you with some insight on the behind the scenes of the audition process.

When a position becomes available in the WSO, it is advertised in music industry publications as well as on the WSO website. The position is listed roughly two months before the scheduled audition date in order to give candidates enough time to prepare the music and plan for travel if needed. A national round is always held first and is only open to Canadian applicants. If no candidate is selected from the national pool, it will be followed up with an international audition.

Musicians who are interested in the position send their resumes to the WSO and then receive a list of numerous excerpts and a few solo pieces to prepare. An excerpt is a brief section of music, usually from a symphony, overture, or concerto that is specifically selected because it demonstrates if a player has the high level skills necessary for performing in an orchestra.

The excerpts each instrument prepares tend to be pretty standard, so most of us have already spent countless hours preparing them for various auditions!

On the day of the audition – almost always held live and in person – the audition committee, comprised of nine musicians from the orchestra and the music director, will gather and choose excerpts from the list to be performed by each candidate. The candidates typically draw numbers to establish what order they will perform in.

Emma Quackenbush, who is a member of the WSO cello section, was the audition proctor. Her role was to tally the committee's votes.

Because it is important the candidates remain anonymous to rule out any discrimination or biases by the committee, there is also a screen in place so the committee can’t see the player. The committee votes after each candidate’s performance and the results of the vote determine whether the candidate will advance to the next round.

There are usually three or four rounds at an audition and about five excerpts in each round, in addition to a solo piece in at least one round. An audition may culminate in the candidate with the highest votes either being offered a contract with the WSO or being invited back to play with the orchestra for a “trial week” at some point in the future.

Every orchestra has a slightly different process, and every musician in the WSO went through this rigorous selection process to earn their position. We look forward to introducing the newest members of the WSO to you next season!


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The audition committee enjoys coffee and donuts while waiting for the audition day to begin.