Denson Paul Pollard, Bass Trombonist of the MET Opera Orchestra, talked with us about his most recent sabbatical leave to play with the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Helsinki Finland. He took the audition after spending a few weeks playing with the orchestra, taking the risk along with 50 other bass trombonists he won the audition. The year was a superb experience, he talked about how the culture in Finland values and supports the arts, and how his experience of auditioning again gave him the opportunity to validate what he tells his students at Juilliard, Bard and Mannes. We talked about; the difference between European and American Conservatory student’s learning focus, what did he learn about himself going through the process of auditioning, the struggle of maintaining the excellent of performance in the MET orchestra given the demands of the schedule, demands of playing the trombone, the learning curve in learning the repertoire, how he relaxes away from his job, the rationale of his youtube channel examples, his exploration of new repertoire, how he learned the bass trombone and what lays ahead in the future.
New York Philharmonic, Acting Associate Principal Trumpet, Ethan Bensdorf shares the most important experiences that lead him to be the musician he is today. Talking about his audition that lead him to the NY Philharmonic position, he tells the qualities that he puts foremost in an audition and performances. Ethan explains how his perspective has changed about auditions and what is most important. He comments on the elusive “consistency”, confidence, interpretation, rhythm, sound and the recent common practice of not choosing a winner of auditions. Maintaining the quality of performance is always the goal once winning the job and he talks about how he manages this everyday, creating a balance of practicing, teaching and life. On the job training and how one reacts to these mistakes is the best way he has learned to maintain his position and continues to learn everyday. He comments on stepping in for Phil Smith after his retirement, how he balances the stress of the job, how a change of repertoire for the Philharmonic creates a fun change from the concentrated performances and how to organize practicing.