Conductor Auditions

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by tubafran, Apr 1, 2004.

  1. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    We have advertised for prospective new conductors and are arranging auditions at rehearsals over the next few weeks. Do other bands have experience of this and can you give us some suggestions on a format?

    Should we leave it to the conductor to suggest music or should we have the same music at each rehearsal or perhaps have one piece that is new to the band and the conductor and use this at all the rehearsals as a control?

    Also what would a conductor expect from a prospective band? I like to see things very much black and white but in this context whose buying and who's selling? the band or the conductor?
  2. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    It's always been a bit o both when i've auditioned. I always take some sight reading for the band, get there ealry talk to one or two players get a feel for music they play well, stuff there learning.

    Band is selling itself to the conductor in terms of Regular attendance, budget for music, concert program each year.

    Conductor is selling himself, freindly, patient realiable.

    Remember you don't need to take first condutor you find that's decent there seems to be lots of conductors out there, or folk wanting to try there hand at it.
  3. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    My own take on this is, depending on how much time you have to decide and how many candidates you get, give your auditioness at least 2 rehearsals! Very difficult to judge on one as two 'opposites' can happen (a) auditionee x is inspired at their audition rehearsal and wows the band into taking him/her on, only to discover that the one moment of inspiration was exactly that. (b) auditionee y has got a good background, knows his/her way round a score, good ear, good attention to detail, but is clearly nervous which affects performance at audition. Band decide he/she is not good enough and loses out on a potential good'un.

    Some conductors are very good at rehearsing and communicating with a band but then just freeze when talking to an audience. Lots of things to be considered. If you have the time, as I say, I'd view your candidates at least twice so that they can get time to familiarise themselves with the band and vice versa. As for music, I suggest you present your candidates with what you want rehearsed well in advance, (doesn't have to be the same pieces). After all, you wouldn't ask your conductor to sight read scores at a contest or concert so there's no point asking them to do that at an audition. It's my firm belief that a successful band will have a conductor who by and large, knows the score(s) religiously prior to rehearsing the piece(s) as surely the remit of an MD is to know from the outset what he/she wants out of a piece.

    Just my humble opinion from someone who's failed more auditions than he's been successful at! ;-)
  4. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    I think the conductor should bring along some music that he knows really well, and that the band might not. That way you don't get habits prgrammed in by old conductors, and he can see how you work when you don't know the music.... much better from the conductors point of view, and also there's none of the "Well i preferred what the last guy did with that piece" stuff when deciding.
  5. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    Why don't you try a method that was used a number of years back for a fairly famous North West Band (I have it from the horse's mouth, honest and no it's not Simon who told me). They used to place a piece on the conductors stand and the band would play an entirely different piece and see if the conductor could tell. If the prospective conductor could then they would be in with a chance! Honest guv'! :lol:
  6. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    All I can say to that is....erm...... I hope I never fall for that one!!!!

    Whatever tubafran, very best of luck and hope you find who you're looking for!

    Kind regards
  7. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I would counsel that you get several qualified people to help in assessing auditionees, maybe someone from another band.

    Once the "likelies" have been decided on then the band can decide by vote if necessary.
  8. Is it common practice in British banding circles to always audition a conductor no matter what? If a person has a high-profile does that mean they can sometimes skip the process?

    Just Interested to know :)
  9. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    Hi Ben,

    It is common practice to at least road test a conductor no matter what their track record is. It is not only a question of talent but also compatability with the band.
  10. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member


    Thanks for all the information we will definately take this on board in planning the auditions. As you say a lot will depend on compatability with the band.
  11. markhall

    markhall New Member

    I would definitely echo what Dave Payn said about auditioning twice. I would be wary about being impressed by impressive sounding musical terminology. Our band auditioned a guy a few years back who did a great audition and impressed us all with ideas about re-tuning the band to A438 rather than A440 for a more sonorous sound, and all these other gimmicks and he lasted about 6 weeks when it became clear that he was certainly not up to the job. It is also important for a dialogue between the 2 parties to see if there is any difference of opinion on musical taste. During the same round of auditions, we had a guy who thought there was no finer opening to a concert than "Fanfare and Soliloquy". Not a terrible piece and with some nice moments but there are certainly better openers for a top section band than that. (No names mentioned deliberately).

    I have sometimes sat in with lower section bands, that I am friendly with, auditioning conductors so that I can give a considered, informed view without any axe to grind. I don't know what section your band is, but it may be useful asking an experienced friend of the band to sit in for their opinion.
  12. Cool thanks. It seems to be common over here that alot of bands have conductors that have been around for ages and ages and have seen the band grow around them from strength to strength. I don't seem to ever have been in a band where conductors were auditioned. Usually a new conductor has been someone familiar to the band so the band already has an idea of what they're like on a musical and social level.
  13. Toni2

    Toni2 Member

    I think a bit of both would be good.
    You need to see how the band cope with the new conductors methods of teaching new stuff to them, but you also need to make sure that the conductor can sight read. Stupid as it may sound - it actually happens!
  14. fartycat

    fartycat Member

    I think we've only auditioned a conductor once and that wasn't a great sucess. We didn't appoint any of the candidates.

    What we did the last time is roadtest a conductor by employing them to take a concert and say two rehearsals. That way, you can see straight off what they're like in a pressurised environment of having limited time to get a programme together. The sensible ones ask about our reportoire and then slip in a few new pieces on top.

    You can also judge how well they react on stage and in front of an audience (crucial if you want good concerts).

    The conductors themselves can also see how we work and whether they will fit in.

    Oh and markhall, we've had all that retuning in are band with one conductor. It played havoc with us at the back on percussion :lol:
  15. cornetcheese

    cornetcheese Member

    I don't know if this helps, but whenever I have been auditioned in the past it has always been over two rehearsals, usually going through music the band is working on at the time. More often than not however, I have been asked to cover a concert or rehearsal which has then led to a greater involvement with a band.

    Hard one to call though!
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know the background of your candidates but, if you've got people coming who are not over familiar with brass bands, it may be worth establishing what sort of technical understanding they have. I've played under several conductors who've not been brass-players, but it makes a real difference if they understand some of the difficulties faced, be it with note production, fingering, shift changes etc.
  17. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Thanks again for the further information. Peter, we have applicants who all come from brass background, tubas, euph and cornet players. All have had some experience of conducting bands before and all have good CVs.

    Thanks also to Garry (ploughboy) for coming along to practice yesterday and taking the rehearsal. The band were only told after the rehearsal that you were not actually applying for the job. Still it was an excellent preparation for us, some sight reading, run through of music not played much and one piece that we had played a lot. If the other candidates give an equal performance we will have a difficult task choosing.

    Thanks also to Tim (timbloke) for using this practice to move from trombone to baritone for the first time ever. Excellent top C and D mate. (Tim is preparing to play the Janacek Sinfonietta with Sheffield Symphany Orchestra later this year and is covering bass trumpet)
  18. geordiecolin

    geordiecolin Active Member

    Glad to see Tim is finally progressing to valves! What's next? Intonation? :lol: :lol:

    Best of luck with the auditions Francis
  19. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Thanks for that Colin, we will see how it goes over the next few weeks.

    By the way keeping your seat warm at BBSBB until you get back, but why does Peter keep saying "Its C sharp"?