A question about orchestral auditions
I know we have more than a few professionals here who often are judges in orchestral auditions so perhaps somebody can address my question.
Since playing in an orchestra is all about playing in a group, why are auditions all about playing solo pieces? Wouldn't it be more revealing about a potential orchestral member to have them play parts from duet's, trio's, quartets,... with other members of the orchestra so that the candidate can be judged on their ability to play in a group setting?
Maybe it's because solo repertoire is better for judging a person's technical skill, as ensemble parts are often easier than solo pieces.
In the US, violin auditions are usually 2 concerto movements (romantic / mozart; these are generally not heard in their entirety) and then excerpts from common orchestral repertoire - so not at all about playing solo pieces. You can tell a lot about a person's playing quality, musical priorities, and experience playing in orchestra from how they play excerpts. Orchestras will sometimes ask for a movement from a quartet, to be played with orchestra members, in the final round.
Usually they have excerpts from orchestral pieces. And most orchestras have a 'trial period' so they can determine whether the player fits into the section.
In addition to what Irene said, many orchestral positions come with a probation period (often one year). If you fail to be able to play with the group, you'll get dismissed.
The short answer is that orchestras want the "total package." If they can get it.
As Scott said, sometimes that does happen.
"But actually, what I found most horrid about orchestral auditions was the excerpts."
In the US, Concertmaster candidates short-listed are often asked to guest-lead the orchestra for a few concerts as part of the evaluation process. The system works pretty well.
I wouldn't say that solo repertoire is necessarily always more difficult than orchestral repertoire. If the committee wanted, they could choose excerpts which parallel the concertos in difficulty. But I think that the idea is to get an idea of how the candidate plays in various settings. I think that it's especially useful to hear the concertos for applicants to principal positions, since they will be playing orchestral solos, and perhaps even soloing with the orchestra.
Excerpts are chosen to reveal specific aspects of playing, not because they are the most difficult orchestral pieces available.