The Musicians’ Voice

Volume 119, No. 5May, 2019

Could the union demand ‘humane’ audition practices in its contracts?

Some of the curveballs that Don Greene cited in his discussion of auditions in the April issue of Allegro arise from unacceptable management practices. About 30 years ago, as contractor for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, I had the responsibility for organizing violin auditions. I scheduled musicians at 10 minute intervals, which seemed a suitable amount of time. However, Lukas Foss, the music director, had no interest in the auditions, and was dismissing players after about two minutes each. After several of these, I approached him and told him he would not finish early because I was not going to require any musician to come on stage before his/her scheduled time. He told me that I was “too humane,” and that I should have called all 40 violinists for 9 a.m. so that he wouldn’t have to wait around. In addition to the unfairness of asking players to audition before they are ready, it is extremely disrespectful to dismiss players from their auditions so quickly.

I wonder if the union might have a role in regulating these practices. The union could negotiate rules prohibiting management from making a player appear prematurely. Because such a rule might lead management to do as Maestro Foss suggested, calling everyone for the same time, another regulation might be that musicians must be scheduled at appropriate intervals. Possibly these practices could be included in CBAs.

– Jon Taylor

E-mail letters or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Local 802.