Want a concerto date? Apply via Youtube

Want a concerto date? Apply via Youtube


norman lebrecht

February 10, 2012

The conductor Manfred Honeck, once a member of the dinosaurian Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, has not stopped breaking moulds since he became music director in Pittsburgh. The first US music director to volunteer a pay cut before his players felt the pinch, Honeck is now casting around for new soloists by soliciting video submissions from unknown instrumentalists. Anyone who can play can apply.

The winners will be chosen at a live audience audition, with worldwide voting running in tandem on Youtube.

Players in the Pittsburgh orchestra tell me they think it’s a terrific idea.

The only conditions are that you have to be over 18, and without an agent. The PSO is not paying commissions.

Here’s Manfred, on video, explaining the scheme.




  • So long as it is a one-off, it sounds like a fantastic idea!

  • Doug says:

    The best part–NO AGENTS! The less ‘business’ (cash motivation) there is in music the better.

    Wishing them the best!

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Wonderful idea, but I don’t understand why PSO should discriminate against artists who have an agent. They can certainly choose to pay however little they want. (Did I understand correctly that they’ll only pay for travel?) Can someone explain to me why the orchestra should care whether the artist has an agent or not, if the expenses to the orchestra are are the same?

      • Doug says:

        The expenses are not the same. When agents get involved, it’s no longer about music or even the best musicians but about maximum enrichment, mainly to the agents. Tip: Google: ‘mafia in music industry.’

        • Thanks, that is interesting

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Doug, how can the expenses be higher if the PSO sets “take it or leave it” financial terms?

          Let’s get real:
          – Most artists, young and old, famous and not so famous, have an agent. Manfred Honeck is apparently managed by IMG Artists. I believe Maazel has no agent, and don’t think he is any less cash motivated.
          – In my opinion the PSO has every right to dictate the financial terms. What the artists do with their own money is their own business.
          – Young artists who has just hired an agent would be unfairly excluded.
          – Whoever wins the competition and performs, if successful, will most likely have an agent very soon thereafter.

          • tls says:

            Petros: I don’t think it has anything to do with the expense of an agent (that line about not paying commissions appears to be Norman’s conjecture). I read it more as part of the purpose of this competition being to identify and give a voice – and a chance – to great young artists who’ve been unsuccessful in getting management, and would otherwise languish in anonymity. And believe me, getting management isn’t easy, there are so many musicians out there trying to build a career, and so many more emerging from the conservatories every year, swelling their ranks. I personally know of several wonderful young artists who for reasons having nothing to do with their musicality or ability have no managment – and therefore no access to solo engagements.

            It seems to me the philosophy here may be “let the agents do their job and build careers for those lucky enough to have management, we’ll surely be hearing about them from those agents; we want to discover deserving emerging artists who DON’T have an agent to advocate for them”. And I say, BRAVO! And yes, OF COURSE whoever wins will probably then get management – I don’t think the purpose of this is to cut managers out of the process. It’s to give someone a chance who otherwise would never be heard.

            To complain that this is some sort of discrimination is ludicrous – it’s a condition to keep the nature of this competition to find an artist who otherwise has no chance of being heard. If one follows that logic, then of course the age restriction should be lifted, yes? And I suppose one could then also argue that percussionists have been discriminated against, since they’re not among the list of eligible instrumentalists.

            And Petros, you did indeed misunderstand or else not read the full terms and conditions on the PSO website (I did), where it clearly states travel and accommodation will be paid for the FOUR FINALISTS to travel to Pittsburgh for the final, “live” round. The winner will receive a return trip to Pittsburgh for the concerts, plus a $10,000 fee for the two performances.

            Having seen too many wonderful artists never succeed in getting management and launch what should have been a wonderful career, I am so glad PSO has found a way to use the internet to give someone a very rare chance.

    • Deirdre says:

      “The less ‘business’ (cash motivation) there is in music the better.”

      Spoken by someone who doesn’t try to make a living in the arts, I suspect…

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Tis, thank you for your insight. Finally some sound arguments why to exclude artists who already have an agent.