Could You Do an Orchestra Librarian's Job?
May 1, 2022 | Noel Morris
When is a synchronization license needed? How do you transpose a cello part down an octave and change it to tenor clef? What the heck is a posaune?
Every spring, the Grant Park Music Festival "staffs up" for the summer concert series. Ushers, audio engineers, musicians—they all pass through the employment process. This year, the Festival hired a new orchestra librarian, a person who arguably has the greatest capacity to grease the skids on stage.
An orchestra librarian brings a specialized set of skills, including keeping a cool head in a high-pressure situation, clean penmanship, knowledge of publishing houses and musical terms in multiple languages, and mastery of notation conventions for each instrument of the orchestra. With over eighty musicians standing by to take the stage, every orchestral part must be ready with its musical road map. To identify the candidate with the right set of skills, the Grant Park Music Festival devised three written tests (shown in excerpt). How many of these tasks can you perform?
Test Excerpt - Preliminary Round
1. Transposition/hand manuscript exercise:
The strings are playing the Dvořák Serenade. The cellos would like you to write the treble clef measures on the attached page in two ways: an octave lower and in bass clef, and an octave lower but in tenor clef.
2. Bowing Exercise
Please transfer the bowings and any relevant information from the attached page into the new part. Please use red pencil for this exercise.
3. Cut-Marking Exercise
Please mark the following cuts in the attached part. Assume that the cuts begin at the beginning of the measure.
Cut from letter P to 10 bars after letter P.
Test Excerpt - Semi-Final Round
You will have 90 minutes to complete this test.
- What publisher represents the following works?
- Libby Larsen: Deep Summer Music
- R. Vaughan Williams: Dona Nobis Pacem
- Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
- Mahler: Symphony #9
- William Grant Still: Darker America
- G. Gershwin: Of Thee I Sing, from Of Thee I Sing
- Britten: Spring Symphony
- Florence Price: Piano Concerto in One Movement
- Give the English equivalent of the following words and phrases:
- Chitarra Trompas
- Col legno
- Auf dämpfer
- One week this summer will involve two different concerts: one that will feature an acrobatic troupe and one that is composed of 22 different Broadway tunes. Describe how you would approach preparing these two programs, including a timeline, bowing process, questions you might have, and how you would track your progress.
- Who composed the following works, and what special considerations, if any, should be made?
- Symphony #5, Reformation
- Symphony #11, The Year 1905
- 1812 Overture
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Symphonie fantastique
- Russian Easter Overture
- When is a synchronization license needed? What is the difference between it and a grand rights license?
6. In what clef(s) are the following instruments notated, and what is the relationship between concert pitch and the transposed notation?
- String bass
- Alto saxophone
- Eb clarinet
- Alto flute
View answers to the semi-final round.
Test Excerpt - Final Round
1. Please create a budget for the procurement of the following pieces, including chorus scores if applicable. All pricing can be found online. Assume you are budgeting only for the music acquisition—do not worry about licensing fees. For purchases, please plan on acquiring 3 scores, 80 chorus scores, and a string count of 188.8.131.52.6. Even if something is listed as out of stock, assume that you will be able to purchase it at the listed prices online.
- Wagner – Three Excerpts (Introduction, Dance of the Apprentices, Procession of the Meistersingers) from Act III of Die Meistersinger – Lucks
- Andre Thomas – I Hear America Singing
- Frank Loesser – Brotherhood of Man from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – 2 performances
- arr. Bill Holcombe – George Gershwin Medley – 1 performance
- John Williams – Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Haydn – Creation – Baerenreiter edition by Annette Oppermann. Please include chorus books with piano reduction that include English translations.
2. We have programmed George Chadwick’s The Angel of Death this summer. A quick search online does not produce results for how to obtain parts. Please describe how you would go about finding out if parts for this piece are available.
3. Please create a Principal Oboe audition excerpt booklet of the following first oboe parts:
- Mozart Oboe Concerto
- Tchaikovsky –Symphony No. 4: II. Andantino in modo di canzona - Beginning to measure 21
- Tchaikovsky –Symphony No. 4: III. Scherzo - Measures 133-144
- Mendelssohn –Symphony No. 3: III. Vivace non troppo - Pickup to measure 33 –measure 100
- Ravel -Le Tombeau de Couperin: I. Prelude - Four measures before Rehearsal 1 –Rehearsal 2; Two measures after Rehearsal 8 –Rehearsal 9
- Brahms –Violin Concerto: Second Movement Solo
4. Please make the following cuts/edits and then make a new performance-ready Violin 1 part for John Williams’ Liberty Fanfare. Presume that none of the cuts will change. Cuts start at the beginning of the bar unless otherwise notated.
- Cut from m. 5 to m. 9
- Cut from m. 38 to m. 43
- Cut from m. 64 to m. 76
- At m. 95, and though beat one of m. 103, make a divisi line. The inside player will play the printed part and the outside player will play every other note, making those pitches 8th notes.
- Cut from m. 116 to m. 122
- Cut m. 132 and 133
- Cut m. 144
- In m. 147 of the printed part, add a 3-octave D half note with a fermata
- In m. 148, beat two, repeat the chord that is on beat one
5. The two percussion parts (one is tambour, the other snare drum) need to be combined between reh. 212 and 216 so that each player can see what the other one is doing. Please mark both parts.
Meet Our New Librarian
Eliza Bangert is the newly-appointed Principal Librarian of the Grant Park Orchestra and librarian at AWR Music. She spent five seasons as the head librarian at the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. Eliza is in demand throughout the Midwest as an orchestral flutist, chamber musician, and new-music interpreter. She has been a substitute with the Grant Park Orchestra and with the Chicago Symphony, where her engagements have included subscription concerts, the MusicNOW series, and concerts at Ravinia. She has also performed with Lyric Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. She holds the Second Flute chair with the South Bend Symphony and the Third Flute/Piccolo chair with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, and is a core member of the experimental music ensemble a.pe.ri.od.ic.