What if…. We separated e-flat clarinet from assistant/associate principal jobs?? Seems like perhaps it may solve the plethora of no hires for Eflat/associate jobs lately. Thoughts?
Unfortunately, the only other option is to put Eflat on the 2nd clarinet position as some orchestras have done (LA Phil, OSM), but that also requires the Associate Principal to play a fair amount of 2nd clarinet. Not to mention that it would take the realignment of CBA’s and changing peoples‘ job descriptions.
It’s a challenge, for sure, to find someone who can do everything well. I think it’s more of a matter of compromise on which part of the job orchestras value more heavily. If it were my section, I’d put a lot more stock on the principal clarinet playing since that part of the job happens more frequently. Then again, if the Eflat playing isn’t super solid, it can cause some massive issues in the woodwind section. I imagine this is probably the crux of the disagreement when it comes down to the hiring decision. Different committee members value different things out of the position, which leads to a split committee and, unfortunately, no hires.
In my experience serving on audition committees, the most successful ones meet ahead of time and discuss exactly what they are looking for out of the position they are auditioning. It helps tremendously to unify a vision and identify the best candidate.