Met hires a British double-bass

Met hires a British double-bass


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2018

Edward Francis-Smith, a former member of the European Union Youth Orchestra, has won an audition for a double-bass position at the Metropolitan Opera.

He is a rare British graduate of the Curtis Institute.



  • YoYo Mama says:

    Once again, the Met denies employment to a deserving American. Shameful. He may be gifted, but he obviously lacks sufficient experience to be in what is supposed to be one of our top orchestras. Orchestras having been hiring too-young players for some time, just to ensure no one else gets them. It is age discrimination. Experience has to count for something. Young brilliance too often tarnishes and vanishes with age.

    • Thanks but no thanks says:

      All the rounds for this audition were completely screened. He was the best player and competed against some of the best players around the world. Don’t tarnish a great achievement by someone who has worked incredulously hard, by carelessly flinging around words like age discrimination. That should be saved for situations when there is actual discrimination.
      It is fair for you to comment on this in your tone, only when you have sat on that panel. Unbelievable.

    • RustySpoon says:

      What a ridiculous thing to say. This bassist turned up on the scene in London years ago, playing with big London orchestras many years ago. He has bags of experience.

      • Rustier Spoon says:

        Mm….”years ago”?…..the chap’s only 21/22 and as for having been on the London scene and playing with the London orchestras? Hardly in any regular kind of way, how can he, he’s been at college and then at Curtis! A few times maybe, but everyone’s done that. He was playing in Birmingham certainly….and no, experience counts for very little these days, sadly. Oh well.

        • RustySpoon says:

          He was very young then of course, maybe only 18, and remember him saying he’d been studying in Birmingham. And it was a London orchestra, I’m pretty sure, which in itself speaks volumes. It’s rare to see string players that young, and they wouldn’t be booked unless their musical intelligence was up to the job, regardless of their ability on the instrument.

          • Rustier Spoon says:

            Sadly it doesn’t speak volumes at all, as one who has spent 35 years on the “London scene”. And, again sadly, “they” are often booked with little musical intelligence and little orchestral ability….

    • FS60103 says:

      Xenophobia and ageism in one smug little parcel of spite. Bravo!

    • MacroV says:

      If you’re not trolling, you obviously are new to SD or any forum that discusses orchestra auditions. The MET has the most credible and objective audition process, probably in the world; the whole thing behind a screen, and they hire whoever emerges as the winner. Regardless of age, nationality, etc.. No “nobody is good enough,” no holding the job open for years while they scour the world for “just the right person,” no secret second audition to which they invite a few inside favorites. If you want to contend, you show up, go through all the rounds, and if you win, you win. And most likely that’s a reason why a lot of MET players (principals, at least) get hired away by other orchestras – they seem to trust the MET’s process more than their own.

      As for hiring a foreigner instead of an American: To get a US work visa, you either have to demonstrate that you’re an alien of extraordinary merit (an E-1 immigrant visa), a skilled worker (E-3), or a skilled worker where no American was available. If you can win an open audition, you arguably meet all of these tests.

    • Thomasina says:

      In the double bass section of the Berlin phil, Edicson Ruiz(Venezuelan) was 19 and Michael Karg was 22 years old when they are hired.

    • psq says:

      Who did Toscanini thought he was, taking away a job that a deserving US citizen should have occupied! And what about the US boy Bendix-Bagley elbowing away worthy German violinists to be the Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmoniker.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Well there are Americans working in British orchestras so it’s fair enough that Ted should get the opportunity to work at the Met. He is a wonderful Bass player and a nice lad and fully deserves this. All the best to him.

  • peter says:

    we have 2 American bass players at Welsh National Opera. One principal one sub principal….. so what’s the problem??

  • Michael Lea says:

    There have always been great double bass players working in London. Dragonetti and Bottesini both made their homes here. That this line of bass players continues up to the present day can be heard on the many recordings and film soundtracks coming out of London studios.

  • Michael Comins says:

    Interesting to me in that I infer that by studying @ Curtis and winning a Met audition, Ted plays a 4-string bass with French bow technique – contrasting with European 5-string basses often bowed with German technique.

  • Moira Leat says:

    I am disgusted with some of these comments, sour grapes come to mind. I am Ted’s aunt, he’s been playing for many years and is extremely talented. Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves!

    • psq says:

      You’ve drawn the wrong conclusion. Except for the very first comment, all the others were supportive of Ted, if not cheering him on,

  • Rustiest of all spoons says:

    Do not listen to the absolutely ludicrous comments of -“yoyomama”- (ridiculous screen name might I add). Ted is an incredibly gifted and talented musician and this is a wonderful and well deserved accomplishment.

  • Jennifer says:

    It sounds like Yo-Yo Ma doesn’t want anyone to have the same chances in life as he did! A young foreigner working in America! Good Heavens! What’s the world coming to? Go far young Ted and may the forces of international musicianship be with you.