Pereira on ‘Orchestral Auditions’

Pereira on ‘Orchestral Auditions’

David Pereira talks about the potential difficulty, artistically, of orchestral playing, and how conformist one needs to become.

DAVID PEREIRA: I’d like to go back to what you said about the orchestral audition and just complexify it slightly. I am quite often assisting my students to prepare for orchestral auditions, and it may be that in the iconic orchestral audition you have an opportunity to put a vote in for both parties. So that when you play your concerto choice and you choose to play — (plays marcato phrase) this way, as oppose to this — (plays the same phrase legato) that this might be seen as an entirely personal choice, and that when you play, for example — (plays a different phrase softly and sweetly) you may much more be considering what you think they would want to hear.

But it’s not quite so simple either. In the first case I might play — (plays first phrase marcato again) because I know that someone on the panel might prefer that kind of thing even though that might be my ‘solo piece’ and my opportunity to be authentically myself and not to demonstrate how well I might conform. I think that, for me, the key difference between solo playing, especially solo playing a piece that I might’ve written myself, and playing in an orchestra, has to do with the intensely conformist attitude one needs within an orchestra.

And especially like the excellent chamber musician who constantly needs to be asking, ‘what sound do I need to make that will most benefit the whole?’ And this should be a sort of life-long fascination of how we play — (plays a sfz decrescendo phrase) with this conductor, and this section, and this acoustic: so, do I play it softer or louder? What is going to sound best?

There is of course potentially a great skill and satisfaction in being able to deliver a sound that fits as well as possible with what’s around it, but at the same time there might be – perhaps there is inevitably – a dreadful loss of the right to be personally expressive if that would mean more radical use of technical effects like vibrato and modulation of volume and possibly rhythmic freedom.

And so, I see that potential difficulty, artistically, of orchestral playing, of how conformist one has to become, compared to certain other situations.

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