Orchestras typically find new musicians through talent agencies. Honeck usually holds auditions arranged in cities where the orchestra travels or, more often, by having the musicians come to the city.
But Honeck and Mori have increasingly shared online video clips of musicians who are creating a buzz in symphony circles and figured, Why not formalize the online screening process just once and see what happens?
The orchestra currently has no musicians who have auditioned by video, though Moir and Honeck said their concertmaster, or first violinist, did come to their attention through a video clip.
The contest is open only to legal U.S. residents — which includes students here on visas and others noncitizens in the country legally — and only to those 18 or over (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 in Mississippi) because laws governing such contests require it. Contestants also cannot be represented by a talent agency or have previously been represented. That's for legal reasons and because it would defeat the purpose of finding "unknown" talent, Moir said.
The contest was limited to the United States because laws governing YouTube videos and the contest itself would have had to be tweaked country-by-country to allow international contestants. The YouTube platform was selected because it would have been too expensive for the orchestra to build its own. The endeavor is being supported by a grant.
Honeck said nobody's sure how well the contest will work. It could be repeated if successful. It could be a one-and-done. Honeck is even open to the idea of finding future orchestra members this way.
"Anything's possible," he said.
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