Co-Concertmaster's Duties?

September 28, 2007 at 04:15 AM · What is the role of the associate concertmaster as compared to the concertmaster? What makes the associate concertmaster a chair of higher leadership than 3rd chair, 1st violin?

Replies (31)

September 28, 2007 at 04:41 AM · Well, one important thing is whenever there is a concertmaster solo (Scheherazade or something) the assistant concertmaster should learn to play it as well, in case something untoward happens to the concertmaster. (You're like an understudy in a play.)

As for the interpersonal dynamics of section leadership, it totally varies from orchestra to orchestra. Some concertmasters lead the section entirely themselves, sometimes the concertmaster and assistant sort of work as a team--depends entirely on the personalities of the players. In my own orchestra, actually, the first three of us (concertmaster, assistant, and myself) sometimes seem to be a three-part section leadership committee! :)

September 28, 2007 at 06:35 AM · His main duty is turn pages for the concertmaster.

September 28, 2007 at 10:19 AM · The very best assistant concertmasters I've ever worked with are the ones whom I can rely on to be rock-solid with their entrances and who stay generally alert. They don't try to do my job, but their great work keeps me from doing something stupid as concertmaster. I really appreciate the good ones.

September 28, 2007 at 01:43 PM · I sit Associate Concertmaster in my community orchestra. Our Concertmaster is a professional musician who flies in for a few rehearsals and our concerts, so that means it falls to me to take over leadership duties during our weekly rehearsals. I'm also expected to keep in contact with with the Concertmaster to keep her up to date on our progress and get advice on problematic passages. If she is unable to make a concert, I sit in her place.

I also turn pages for her :)

September 28, 2007 at 01:52 PM · Oh Jim,

How I've missed your thoughtful insights. All these years, I've been wondering what my job as Assistant Concertmaster is, and now you've shown me the way.

But wait - who do I turn pages for if I am sitting third chair?! OH NO!!!!! I am lost again!

September 28, 2007 at 02:02 PM · Igor,

"Assistant" always means the same thing. Better luck in the future.

Dr. F.

September 28, 2007 at 02:19 PM · same thing as what?

September 28, 2007 at 04:03 PM · Igorek, don't encourage him. I'm so profoundly tired of his endless, thoughtless, humorless, uninformed, pseudo-egalitarian, anti-musical posts that I've actually been avoiding (or posting on as a result. I think we need to start a trend of ignoring the trolls. Maybe in their desperate search for attention they'll either get discouraged and go elsewhere, or become so insistent and obnoxious in seeking attention that Laurie will find no recourse but to ban them from the site.

September 28, 2007 at 04:07 PM · Count

Play in tune

Get that freakin' page over!

September 28, 2007 at 05:03 PM · Emil, I'm in.

As for Igor... what would he know about being assistant CM? I mean yea, Baltimore symphony... but what are they? Amateur band of course. Shut up Igor... talk to us when you land a REAL job.

September 28, 2007 at 05:26 PM · I've been in dozens of smaller orchestras--mostly regional and gig orchestras--as concertmaster, associate and assistant. I find it curious that in none of the orchestras, even those with nationally-known conductors, the conversation of who would be playing the solos should the concertmaster become ill was never discussed. Kind of like an aging parent who refuses to discuss a will. Never mentioned in contracts. And assistants, who generally do the job in larger orchestras, aren't always up to the job in lower orchestras and may be occupying the seat for other reasons (that they're less worse than those behind them).

I was put on the spot only once as an associate when it looked like the cm wouldn't show (he did) and asked to play Scheherazade. I guess it's assumed that the cm will always show.

September 28, 2007 at 05:44 PM · Now that I understand the 2nd chair, I would appreciate if someone could explain what do the 3rd and the 4th concertmaster do ? They come with varying titles, 2nd associate concertmaster, assistant concertmaster, etc. Thank you.


September 28, 2007 at 06:37 PM · Emil, one of two things. Either you're too lame to see he started it, or else it's self-righteous deliberate avoidance of the truth. What is it that sticks your nose to the ceiling? As for hoping people will be banned, you're the one who's been called down - for having the only opinion allowed. As for ignoring me, or whatever you want, it doesn't matter, because you have absolutely nothing I want. The same would apply to anybody who'd join a merry band you glue together with whatever's on your nose. I guess there's a third possibility, i.e. running for office. Good luck in the primary.

September 28, 2007 at 09:56 PM · Emil--I'm in too...

Igor! How've you been? Still looking for the perfect fiddle? :)

Ihnsouk, as I just discovered at rehearsal today, the job of the 3rd and 4th chairs is to poke the concertmaster and assistant concertmaster in the backs when they're doing the divisi wrong or about to miss an entrance. :) :) :)

September 29, 2007 at 05:07 AM · Greetings,

that`s it Mara. My experience has been that the third chair steps in with te solos if the concertmaster is sick. I auditioned for the Hong Kong symphony third chair once and all the required excverpts were orchestral violin solos.



September 29, 2007 at 08:15 PM · Ahhh yes... more fun reading material for those long boring nights... ;-) Thanks Jim - I've missed hearing your nonsense ;-)

Peter - I'll let you know when I get a "real" job. :-) Smallville, KY just opened up for cm... I'll try it! :-)

September 29, 2007 at 09:06 PM · so there are concetermasters, first associate concertmasters, associate concertmasters, principal associate concertmasters, and assistant concertmasters. They all seem to be placed differently for each orchestra.

September 29, 2007 at 09:33 PM · Igor, drop it. All you can do is look like more of an idiot and Emil will be right there with you.

September 29, 2007 at 09:46 PM · Back off, Jim. Leave Igor alone.

September 29, 2007 at 09:44 PM · Very intertaiing commentary there.

The role of the Associate Concertmaster is to turn pages for the Concertmaster, that is true,but so much more too. Sometimes they can contribute to keeping the concertmaster from making a blunder, as lapses of concentration can happen to anyone, and certainly the concertmaster is under alot of pressure. The Associate gets to play concertmaster

anytime the concertmaster is indisposed or performing as a soloist. Assistant concertmaster(third chair, most often gets to sit up as Associate, and may rarely play as concertmaster, as usually both first chair players are not absent at the same time. Sometimes they may get an opportunity to solo with the orchestra. Of course they all have to know their parts really well!

September 29, 2007 at 10:47 PM · All right, you guys, settle this like men.

Chaccone. At dawn.

October 4, 2007 at 07:51 PM · Jim - I think that even a donkey would look smart next to you based on your commentaries....

Chaconne it is, or better yet! - last page of Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso in under 1:40! May the fastest fingers win!

October 4, 2007 at 08:07 PM · A donkey, maybe. But that doesn't mean you have a chance.

October 4, 2007 at 10:52 PM · brilliant....

October 4, 2007 at 11:10 PM · Alright you two, upload your recordings... :)

October 4, 2007 at 11:36 PM · Thank you. But we can't let brilliant or dumb be an issue, because this is much too important for that. The issue has to be is it in good taste, or is it uncouth?

October 5, 2007 at 05:05 AM · Jim, you're not fit to judge either.

October 5, 2007 at 09:44 AM · I didn't say you weren't fit to judge.

October 5, 2007 at 08:11 AM · For those who responded to my question, thank you.

October 5, 2007 at 09:46 AM · It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, and please allow me to apologize for certain uncouth ones.

October 5, 2007 at 04:24 PM · If I could return to the original topic. . . I was sitting in rehearsal yesterday and realizing how important it is for the associate to support the CM by using the same bow strokes, articulation, vibrato, and other phrasing aspects.

Yes--it should be a given that everyone in a section should be doing this, but it's surprising how many associates in the past have seemed to undermine me by obliviously playing on the string when I was off, being in a different part of the bow, or by vibrating widely when I was keeping it narrow. I often sigh under my breath when an associate is merrily playing on the A string in first position and crossing string when I'm high on the D when the music calls for it. It's especially important for the players behind the CM who can't see him/her but must rely on the associate to see what's going on.

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