This isn't strictly to do with strings but thought some people here could provide some insight. I am aware I'm not ready for what I'm going to ask, so for now it is just hypothetical.
If I went and auditioned and won a place in an orchestra outside of the UK (or any English speaking country), would I be expected to be able to speak the language of whatever country I was in?
I seem to have a vague recollection of a friend before telling me professional musicians (world touring) should be able speak multiple languages.
I think you would be expected to *learn* the language of rehearsals, and pretty darn quickly too.
Would you expect the people of the country you were in to speak YOUR language instead?
To be fair, English is the new lingua franca… So if an orchestra is trying to attract international players or in some other way be “international,” everything would probably be in English.
Given our musical terminology, perhaps the lingua franca should be Italian. :-)
I wonder however if in the non English speaking world orchestra musicians aren't expected to speak English well enough for rehearsal purposes. Otherwise a lot of international guest conductors would have a hard time rehearsing.
@Albrecht, I thought the same thing to be honest. But as I understand, a lot of them speak more than one language anyway
You need to pass whatever language requirement that country has for immigrants. For instance, I believe that to immigrate to the Netherlands, you have a requirement to take classes on the Dutch language and culture, and you need to pass an exam demonstrating basic Dutch proficiency.
Regardless of whether many of the musicians and/or conductor speak English, if the rehearsals are not held in English, it would be rude and unrealistic to expect someone to be somehow translating for you.
This is what I thought honestly. But thanks everybody!
In our citys pro symphony orchestra (mostly German speaking country) there are German, Austrian, Dutch, French, Italian, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese musicians if I remember correctly. (That's at least whom I know in person.) There also used to be a Finnish percussionist a while ago, and a Spanish lady in the woodwinds. No matter who studied part of their education at German or Austrian universities, all of them speak German good enough to participate in rehearsals. Note that often a major source of income for orchestral musicians is in teaching, so this is another reason for learning the local language rather soon.
That's an excellent point regarding teaching. I would expect most orchestral musicians to have at least some ability to communicate in both the local language (because they teach locally) and English (at least for guest conductors).
Reading various comments with interest, I would think if you won a position outside of the UK, btw, my favourite part of the world, what many here have pointed out regarding learning the foreign country language would be of infinite value ~ Even when moving from the U.S., to London, it took some doing to get familiar with local colloquialism's, and even we 'Yanks' speak our 'brand' of English!!
For what it's worth, musicians tend to pick up languages rather quickly & jobs don't always start immediately, so you'd probably be ok.
My wife and I played for short stint in the São Paulo Symphony in Brazil about 20 years ago. Rehearsals were in Portuguese with the regular conductors and in English with the guest conductors. To the surprise of many, Skrowaczewski showed up speaking only Italian during rehearsals.
I spent a sabbatical semester in Mainz (Germany) at one of the Max Planck Institutes. Essentially, there are so many international people there that the institute was basically an English-language place. But there is the additional factor that nearly all scientific journals are published in English. I would still have enjoyed the experience much more if my German were better. But it would have made no difference in the academic setting, only for jokes and war stories around the water cooler or when out and about in the village. All of the German professors and graduate students spoke entirely fluent English. Your German will never be as good as their English unless you are among the very rare American who grew up speaking German at home (which I am not, even though my mother is German). The Romanian, Bulgarian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Italian, and Indian graduate students spoke very good English, and the Chinese graduate students spoke fair English, all of which is entirely understandable in historical context.
Lydia, countries "where many of the people you interact with don't speak English" are quite rare these days. Such a problem is much more likely encountered by French of Finnish people.
As someone who is fairly well traveled internationally and who works with a global clientele: I think it is very dependent on who you interact with. Young, urban people are far more likely to speak fluent English than the older generation, people whose professions do not require interacting with English speakers/media/materials, etc. And it certainly varies by country, too. Germany is an easier place to get around as an English only speaker than France, for instance.
Paul, respectfully, the scientific community is very different from the music community when it comes to the prevalence of English.
As someone who lives in a multilingual society (southern Europe) and works in teaching immigrants, refugees, etc. to integrate in society by learning the country's native language, it seems to me that learning the language of the country you are in "from day one" is the most healthy and respectful situation. That does not mean that you may not use translation by foreign language proficient natives to communicate when necessary and available, of course. Lenguage diversity is wealth, not a problem.
Mary Ellen, that remains true in the tech community in Japan even today, including in Tokyo.
Lydia, I can imagine. I struggle with my colleagues at work with that
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