Dvorak recap and a random thought
4 Feb 2011
Inside the Classics

After a really quick turn around to new repertoire and a new orchestra (I’m in North Carolina conducting Saint-SaĆ«ns, Debussy and Stravinsky) I finally have a moment to reflect on last week’s Inside the Classics concerts.

First and foremost, it was the show that almost never happened. Well, OK, I’m exaggerating, but not by much! Friday morning found Sam not at our dress rehearsal but in the emergency room with not one but two kidney stones. I’m not sure whether it was sheer madness or unbelievable fortitude (or maybe a bit of both), but Sam managed to get himself on his feet and, heavily doused with painkiller, soldiered through the entire performance.

That, my friends, is dedication. And a potent reminder that we need a Plan B in case of emergencies (which, honestly, we hadn’t yet contemplated)!

I had a particularly good time working with my home band on Dvorak’s 7th. For me it was a bunch of things; it’s my favorite of his symphonies, a work of which I have an instinctive stylistic understanding, and a piece to which I have a personal attachment. And from the players’ side, it’s a standard…but not one that’s overplayed. So while it’s in everyone’s fingers there’s still a sense of freshness left to it.

On both nights I had moments of that indescribably buzz where everyone’s really riding the same wave (leave it to the Hawaiian to come up with the surf metaphor!) – there’s an incredible effortlessness to it that just plain feels good. I’ve often said that those moments are few and far between, so when they happen, I’ll savor the memory for a few weeks.

OK, and now, apropos of nothing, my totally random thought. (Preface: when I’m on the road I end up watching an inordinate amount of CNN because, well, hotel living is lonely, and I like to have the news on while I’m studying/blogging/catching up on phonecalls.)

So, this morning, on CNN, Google announced that it had received 75,000 applications for the 6,000 new job openings announced last month. This was apparently so newsworthy that it ran a couple of times in the 75 minutes I had the CNN playing as background noise this morning.

By my calculation, this means one in 12.5 applicants has a chance of being hired. These are apparently terrible (and therefore newsworthy) odds for getting a job.

Compare this, for a moment, with the average orchestral job opening. I don’t have the statistics, but anecdotally, it’s a low turnout if there are several dozen players vying for the spot, and certainly not unusual for over a hundred people to apply. And even if someone actually wins the audition (orchestras sometimes leave a position unfilled if the right player doesn’t come along), they still have to go through the tenure process to actually keep the job.

So, for all those who are incredulous about the Google applicant-to-hire ration, take a look at the orchestra business. Now THOSE are rough numbers…

<October 2019>

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