You may remember reading about the TSO audition process in a previous article. Since borders opened late last year, it’s been non-stop action arranging auditions and looking to fill vacancies within the orchestra. We thought we’d check in with Director Operations, Jacqui Walkden, to see how it is all going.

Since we last spoke, covid got in the way of auditions and everything came to a halt. This year, are there many auditions planned?

Because we were able to maintain activity through the last two years, we were able to proceed with some auditions, but the overall process was slower than usual, and this was in respect to people in lockdown – we wanted to be sure everyone had to opportunity to participate in the process. In turn this led to, in some cases, year-long delays.

An example of this was the Principal Cello position. When the state borders closed in early 2020, it was actually a few days before our Principal Cello audition – however we were one step ahead of the border closing so we were able to shut down the process, keep everyone who applied in the loop, and give a deadline to proceed with auditions via recording. We then couldn’t set a first round date until we knew it was safe to come back into the office (late July rather than March as planned). This delay meant that final rounds could not take place until early April 2021 when we were able to invite the live candidates to Hobart for the final rounds. This is indicative of the challenges we’ve faced and how we have adapted to these changes. It’s a relief to now be able to organise auditions and trust they will be back to more ‘normal’ timeframes.

Couldn’t you have done the auditions just via recordings?

We held some initial rounds with recordings, but for the final decision we need to invite applicants to Hobart to play for, and sometimes with, our musicians in a final round. It’s not just about the musicality and abilities of the individual, but there is also a social aspect to playing in an orchestra that can only be seen when the candidate attends/is live.

How are auditions tracking so far this year?

We have already undertaken four auditions this year, and we currently have more in the market. This year we are rolling out a process of auditioning our vacancies.

If we see some new faces in the orchestra, can we anticipate that these are possible candidates on trial?

You can expect to see some unfamiliar faces at concerts – however keep in mind that these may also be players covering periods of leave or augmenting the orchestra for particular programs. On top of this, when candidates are offered a position, they have a minimum 6-month trial before officially moving into that role, to ensure that the appointment does work for both parties.

We really value the privacy of our musicians, especially during these potentially life-changing processes which for them literally play out in the public arena. In not announcing who has auditioned for positions vs who has been contracted for operational requirements, we are looking after the wellness of our players and players that perform with us.

So, you can anticipate, but there may be numerous reasons behind why you don’t recognise a face!

Can we be cautiously optimistic that we will fill most of our vacancies through this current audition process?

Let’s say cautiously excited that we will continue to fill our current vacancies and that these new appointments will become part of your TSO experience in the years ahead. Like any company, the TSO evolves constantly as personal and professional lives impact individuals. Our job is to champion the future of the TSO and I am confident that the current and future musicians of this company will continue to bring you the great TSO experiences you love.

We look forward to announcing any new appointments as appropriate over the coming months!