As long as there have been orchestras, there have been auditions. It’s a familiar process to most professional musicians, but it can be stressful and not just because of the pressures of performance. Making the right contacts, finding the best vacant positions, providing the correct paperwork and coordinating a busy schedule can make the necessary business of auditioning a challenge, and this can be even more problematic when auditioning overseas in a country where English is not the first language.
Fortunately, a new online service is bringing the process of auditioning into the 21st-century. Muv.ac are a one-stop-shop for orchestral musicians, listing vacancies from orchestras around the world. Users can distribute C.Vs, make online applications and download all necessary documents, easily, quickly, and perhaps most importantly, cheaply.
One of Australia’s most highly-regarded orchestral musicians, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra co-concertmaster Eoin Andersen, is one of thousands of musicians already using the service. Andersen was a long time member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, held the position of principal second violin of the Ochester der Oper Zürich, and has also been either guest principal or guest concertmaster of the London Philharmonic, the Rundfunk Simphonieorchester Berlin, the Swedish Radio Symphony, the Zürich Kammerorchester, and Berlin's Konzerthaus Orchester, among others. He shared his experience of muv.ac with us:
Muv.ac is a service that gradually came to my attention a few years ago. At first, I wasn’t convinced, but since then, many improvements have been made to the user interface making the experience even better. Features like the ability to personalise one's profile and the sheer number of organisations that are adopting it as a means of screening candidates have turned me from a sceptic into a fan.
I've experienced muv.ac at both ends, by which I mean as someone who reviews applicants and as someone who has used the service to apply for jobs. Users can upload recordings, reviews, and a CV too, as well as subscribe to receive emails about new vacancies. Most musicians’ career-experience and education are extremely varied and over the years, muv.ac has improved the way a user can input those important details. The more orchestras that use it (and that number is growing quickly) the more valuable it is for a musician interested in orchestral work to register.
Now, for some advice. Before services like this existed, it took a lot of work to apply for a job, especially in a foreign country. You had to print a cv, write and print a cover letter and go to the post office (and I'd rather go to the dentist than the post office). In short, you had to be committed. However, now muv.ac makes it very convenient – no post office visits required!
Orchestras can get overwhelmed with the sheer number of people applying for a position when it's a one-click process, so even if not required to, I recommend writing a cover letter to introduce yourself and emphasise any particular affinity you have for the orchestra you’re applying to. Most orchestras in Europe have a pretty severe cut from the number of applicants to those invited: I'd estimate around a 30% call back. Adding this kind of detail can really help you to stand out, and this is easily done through muv.ac.
The service also advertises and manages applications for the academies of major European orchestras. Academy schemes are absolutely brilliant. Often you’ll get a stipend, play a certain number of performances a year and have lessons with principals. If you're in the grey zone between graduating and landing your first orchestral job, this is a great way to go. Switzerland and Germany, in particular, are rife with orchestras who have this 2-year programme, so I highly recommend it to early-career musicians.
Another advantage of Muv.ac is that it's simple and accessible. That may sound unimportant, but clarity is incredibly useful when figuring out career moves. Thousands of graduates from conservatories and colleges worldwide are entering the profession each year, and there are precious few stable positions available, so knowing when and where those jobs come up is vital. I absolutely recommend muv.ac and remember: personalise your application, include a cover letter and apply for appropriate jobs. Good luck!