You probably haven't heard of Chinese-born American violinist Frank Hwang , but he's just won Classical Music's equivalent of the lottery ,
and one of the most prestigious posts in the world of the symphony orchestra . He's just been appointed to be the next concertmaster, that is
the principal violinist of the New York Philharmonic , oldest symphony orchestra in America .
He managed to beat out many other brilliantly gifted violinists from other great orchestras to get this plum job , so it isn't as easy
as winning the lottery through blind luck . He got the job through a combination of enormous talent and even more hard work developing
his talent from an early age, not to mention sheer luck . But the competition for such a coveted position is very much like the lottery in that
of getting such a job if you're a violinist are pretty much astronomical . It's tough enough to get a job as a a section violinist in a great
orchestra , or a position in any section , but Frank Hwang has achieved something which very few classical musicians will
ever do no matter how talented .
If you're interested to know how orchestral auditions work , you can check a post I did years ago when I first began my blog here
called "How do you get a job in a symphony orchestra " ? As a horn player , I went through this harrowing ritual many times, including
three auditions for the New York Philharmonic myself . Believe me, it's not an experience for those who are faint-hearted !
Hwang was born in China in 1978 but came to America with his family as a child , and was first taught the violin by his mother .
He went on to study seriously after initial lack of enthusiasm , studied with distinguished teachers , won many presitigious prizes
and appeared as a soloist with many leading orchestras as well as playing recitals and performing chamber music .
He became concertmaster of the presitigious Houston symphony , but when the renowned violinist Glenn Dicterow, who recently retired as
Philharmonic after over 20 years , he manged to beat out many other superb violinists for the job , and spent several weeks as a guest
concertmaster trying out for the job . This frequently happens at auditions . After winnowing out many applicants , the
finalists are sometimes given a chance to perform at actual concerts with the orchestra as a trial .
Music director Alan Gilbert , who will be leaving this post in two years , made the final choice of Hwang for the job . A committee of
members of the orchestra votes on candidates for any position , but the music director always has the final say .
So congratulations , Frank Hwang ! You have enormous shoes to fill , following in the footsteps of so many outstanding concertmasters
of the New York Philharmonic . It's a great responsibility being in the hot seat of a great orchestra .
The concertmaster is like the quarterback of a football team . It's an incredibly tough and demanding job , and the pressure
is enormous . The concermaster has to play any given violin solo in orchestral works , and is responsible for crucial tasks such
as regulating the bowing of the violins and being the liason between the violins and the conductor . Sometimes the
concertmaster plays violin concertos with the orchestra , or as a guest with other orchestras . Glenn Dicterow did this often and with
the greatest distinction .
Being the concertmaster of the orchestra has certain perks , such as being the highest paid member of the orchestra , and though
he won't make the same salary as the quarterback of an NFL quarterback , he has a very steady job and will last much lnger
on the job than any football player on the job and like the other members of the orchestra , will get generous benefits andd two months
paud vacation ! Not too shabby !