Already we are in the later part of November and of course, I realize that the festive season is almost upon us and the dawn of 2016 is not far behind. To celebrate, I need to plan ahead or simply stay home with friends and family and enjoy some of the many New Year’s traditions available to all of us; college football, the Rose Bowl parade and the annual New Year’s concert. No special tickets required just a bit of relaxation time for the first day of the year. Football is beyond my ability but flowers and music are right up my alley. Who does not enjoy the fantastic fantasy floral displays floating by in the parade. All one needs is a bit of sun outdoors to highlight these superb constructions. On the other hand, indoors inside a superbly constructed architectural wonder, also be-decked in massive floral arrangements, one may listen to the melodious strains of music from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
It is tough to become a member of this 170 year- old orchestra as direct auditions are not possible. If interested a gifted musician must audition for the Vienna State Opera. If accepted by the State Opera the musician must successfully perform with it for three years, a sort of proving ground, before he may apply to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for an audition. No wonder the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is regarded as one of the finest in the world. The standards that one must pass to be accepted are set phenomenally high.
By far the majority of members are men. There are a few female members in recent years, 6 or so – I guess that this progress.
But the uniqueness of the orchestra does not end upon admission. The member musicians are a self-governing group. In essence every year there are meetings in which the members determine their plans for the coming weeks, months and year by voting on various points, alternatives and decisions to be made. Those that receive the majority of votes are accepted. Its just that simple. In order to have a complete overview of what will be happening there is a 12 member group elected by the orchestra members who action the numerous activities and plans for a year that require some management aspects. If these twelve get re-elected then they know the rest of the orchestra is happy with how the year unfolded.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra does not have a permanent conductor but rather they invite top-notch conductors from various parts of the world to join them for awhile in Vienna and lead the group through their performances. The honor of being invited as the guest conductor for the New Year’s Day concert is highly prized by these leading and very gifted musicians.
Knowing this always makes me smile when enjoying the New Year’s concert not only the musicians but the conductor leading them represent some of the finest performers of classical music in the world. Quite the way to begin a year.