OK. Here’s the dirty truth about orchestra playing. Many of the parts that you have to play are simply inaudible, no matter what you do. Sometimes it’s the whole part and other times it’s sections of a part. Some of these parts show up on auditions regularly. So my question is: What are the most thankless parts that you’ve had to play? They may be parts that are easy but inaudible, or very difficult but inaudible.
Sarah Bullen, Principal harpist of the Chicago Symphony, told a funny story at a masterclass she did in Boston a few years ago. When she played her audition for the New York Philharmonic-her job previous to Chicago- she was playing the final stage and was asked to play the Magic Fire music. She got to the really bad pedal section and screwed up. She stopped and apologized and started the excerpt again. She screwed up again in the same place. When she stopped the second time, Barenboim,who had been asked by Mehta to sit in on the harp auditions, burst out laughing and said something like “Oh hell, don’t worry about it. You can’t hear it anyway!”