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“I learned that you have to be totally prepared — mentally, physically. It’s something you have to take very seriously every time.” —Justin Bartels, Principal Trumpet Justin Bartels The stakes were higher when Bartels returned in 2008. The Columbus Symphony, where he recently won the position of Principal Trumpet, was cutting health benefits. His wife was seven months pregnant. This time, he had to nail it. “I didn’t know how badly I wanted it until I played the audition,” he says. But a few notes into an excerpt from Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, blowing from behind a screen that separated him from the small, expert audience, he realized he couldn’t breathe. “I hadn’t been to Colorado in a while. I wasn’t prepared for the altitude. I stopped deliberately, which I think was a surprise to the committee, but when I started again, it was fine,” he says. “The common thought among musicians is that you can’t make a mistake, but that isn’t true. They’re listening for all kinds of things: style, character, the quality of sound. Note perfection is just one part of it.” Two rounds and 48 hours later, Bartels was named Principal Trumpet for the Colorado Symphony. It was the kind of moment that propels professional musicians through years of intensive training, study, expense and sacrifice. Throughout the 2013/14 season, the Colorado Symphony will host dozens of players hoping to fill positions vacated by section changes and the retirement of a storied class of players, including cellists George Banks and Eric Bertoluzzi, violist Bobbie Hill, violinists Keith Howard and Gary Goble, and bassist Chet Hampson. On average, the Colorado Symphoy will field one hundred résumés for every opening, sent in

by professional musicians from around world. Of those, about sixty will fly to Denver, at their own expense, for the chance to perform for a panel of judges, including Music Director Andrew Litton, section leaders and senior members of the orchestra’s artistic committee. The audition process is purposely “blind” – players perform behind screens that conceal their appearance and identity; carpets on the floor obscure the sounds of players’ shoes on the stage, muting cues about gender, size and mobility. The question of who advances and who does not is answered in the ears, and minds, of the committee members. “The competition is the ultimate way we as an institution protect the artistic quality of our product, how we define and control the integrity of the people on our stage,” says Anthony Pierce, Vice President of Artistic Administration for the Colorado Symphony. “The judges are listening for a complete musician, someone who is rhythmically impeccable, with perfect intonation, who plays in a stylistic manner consistent with the aesthetic of the composer and the excerpt. They must have knowledge of the repertoire, and what else is happening in the orchestra. You can only know some of these things by experience. We’re looking for a candidate who can respond to any challenges -- or curveballs -- all skills required to fit into an ensemble.” Winning a spot in the Colorado Symphony is not unlike earning a spot on a major sports team, adds Pierce. Musicians spend years perfecting their craft, most beginning as children, then

16 SOUNDINGS 2013/14 | COLORADOSYMPHONY.ORG

Soundings Magazine November 1-3, 2013  

In-theater magazine produced for the Colorado Symphony

Soundings Magazine November 1-3, 2013  

In-theater magazine produced for the Colorado Symphony

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