Cleveland opens up its concertmaster seat

Cleveland opens up its concertmaster seat


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2020

The Cleveland Orchestra has finally announced an audition for its vacant concertmaster’s seat, occupied by William Preucil until October 2018, when he was sacked over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Preucil was the highest paid concertmaster in the US.


The next occupant will have to settle for less.

The principal trombone position is also up for audition, and for the same reason.




  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Did either of the Clevelanders challenge their firing, like Muckey and Wang?

    • Clevelander says:

      Yes, they both did; however, in NY, the orchestra’s review committee (made up of members of the orchestra) passed the responsibility off to arbitration, which vetoed the firings. In Cleveland, the musician review committee voted in favor of the admin and upheld the firings.

    • Ben says:

      Bill’s messing around was widely known, had been reported at least a decade prior. Same for principal trombone LaRosa.

  • Sashimi says:

    Thus audition has been announced quite a while ago and was supposed to take place in May, only has been postponed due to the pandemic.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    Good to know.

    I’m buying a violin tomorrow and will start practicing.

  • Amos says:

    If they had acted earlier in acknowledging that there was a problem the orchestra would have had a superb in-house replacement in Ellen DePasquale.

    • Anon says:

      I disagree that she would have been a superb replacement. She’s a cold fish, musically speaking. DePascuale is not even close to being in Preucil’s league, as much as I despise his behavior.

      • Amos says:

        Interesting choice of adjective. It speaks volumes.

      • Amos says:

        More importantly Jascha Brodsky & CvD, who appointed her Associate, disagree. Last, although heredity is of limited value it is hard to imagine that being surrounded by first-rate Philadelphia Orchestra string players from birth results in superb technique but the attribute you ascribe to her playing.

    • sam says:

      I’d say the most interesting bit on the Boston audition sheet is that the BSO tunes to A = 441. Cleveland, as most American orchestras, tunes to 440. Berlin apparently tunes to 446.

      1) Unless there’s some historical reason linked to a particular make (of the oboe, or whatever), randomly upping your frequency against your peer orchestras is just willful and weird.

      2) I understand the higher you tune, the more “brilliant” you sound, fine, if you want to stand out, but why by 1 (Boston), and why not by 6 (Berlin), can the (average) ear really distinguish an orchestra tuned to 440 from 441, even if one has “perfect” pitch?

      3) What if the oboe decided to come out one evening and tuned them to 440? Would there be a riot? Would Beethoven turn over in his grave?

      • sam says:

        4) Say you’re a tenor superstar soloist but with a limited high C (Domingo), you come to Boston to sing Nessun Dorma, have you suddenly lost your high C at 441? Would the orchestra try to accommodate by tuning down to 439?

      • Old Man in the Midwest says:

        Speaking for myself, I would rather be sharp than out of tune.

      • Bruce says:

        The BSO used to tune to 442 when I was in school there. I honestly don’t know what the rationale is. The general tendency is to play sharp to the prevailing pitch, whatever that is. (Better orchestras/ better players know to avoid that, but some people will still play sharp on purpose for solos so they can “stand out” more. I don’t like the way it sounds, and after 30 years as an orchestral musician I still don’t understand why someone would want to play out of tune on purpose. But whatever.) I find that where an orchestra tunes is less important than how well they play in tune together.

        1) I agree. (And the “particular make of oboe” argument is invalid because the most popular brand of oboe in the US is made in France.)

        2) Average ears, no. Symphony musician ears, yes. I’m not claiming perfect pitch (or perfect intonation), but when the oboe gives an A, I have an instant, visceral reaction to the pitch. I sit right beside him, so I check my gut reaction with his tuner. My reaction is almost always correct. HOWEVER. If I hear a Berlin Philharmonic recording, I don’t wince my way through it going “omg, they’re all so sharp.” If the group is all playing in tune together, that’s what counts. (Exception: baroque pitch which is usually a half-step lower than modern. When I hear a HIP recording, I can’t help hearing “Brandenburg Concerto #3 in G-flat” for example.)

        3) Orchestra musicians might notice. What would probably happen is that some of them would tune to the pitch given and some would tune to the normal pitch, and then everyone would sort of muddle their way to common ground. Beethoven would not be able to hear them in any case.

      • Bill says:

        No, they do not tune to A=446! 443.

  • Clevelander #2 says:

    Old news.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m a little curious about how attractive a big-time CM job is in comparison to a soloist career, in terms of both money and lifestyle. At $400-500K/year, plus some extra income from teaching and some solo/chamber gigs, how many touring soloists actually earn more? Sure, Joshua Bell, ASM, Hillary Hahn, Vengerov, Tetzlaff, Kavakos, and a few others probably do. But even someone generating, say, $2 million/year in fees, when you subtract out management fees, taxes, travel expenses, salary for an assistant, etc., and also factor in the simple hassle of all that travel, a CM job in a top orchestra would seem pretty appealing.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      You are right, many outstanding violinists are very happy being the concertmaster rather than the soloist. Partly it is a matter of temperament. Many people don’t like the sheer grind of the travel that being a soloist entails.

    • Euphonium Al says:

      I’m not a violinist, world-class or otherwise, but for me the relative stability of a concertmaster’s life at one of the world’s greatest orchestras holds more appeal.

    • Bruce says:

      Agree with Saxon: I would think that temperament is the key. Drawbacks to life as an orchestral player:

      • You don’t get to choose what music you play,
      • Or when/how often,
      • Or how fast,
      • Or the interpretation.
      • Especially as a string player, you are (or can feel like) an anonymous cog in the machine. Things do not fall apart if you’re not there.
      • You’re always in the same place (even big orchestras in the US rarely tour).
      • You’re always working with the same people, even if you do go on tour. Don’t love your stand partner/ section leader/ music director? Tough.
      • I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of right now.
      • Well, here’s one: if you don’t love your job, it can be incredibly difficult to find another one. Much easier to find a new spouse (and, as with the job, there’s no guarantee you’ll be happy with the new one either). As a soloist, you can always tell your agent you don’t want to work with a certain conductor again.

      All this in return for life as a wage slave a stable income, which might not even be that stable? Some people would be — indeed, some people are — deeply unhappy with that trade-off.

      Of course not everyone will see these as drawbacks. If you like consistency and routine — if you’re able to find adventure in everyday life — if you find satisfaction in doing your job well even as a cog in the machine (even under the supervision of an idiot), if you don’t really like travelling, if you enjoy seeing the same people all the time… and/or if a [relatively] stable income is really important to you… then an orchestral life is the life for you.

      • Brian M Dempsey says:

        Being a soloist is a lot easier than playing concertmaster. Basically, a soloist works out a couple or recital programs and a few concertos and goes on tour playing the same pieces over and over. Soloists call the shots — you seldom have conductors angry at soloists. A lot of musicians are going the free lance soloist route these days for that reason. Orchestral jobs are just too hard to get. Job security is a problem, and a lot of soloists teach to supplement their incomes.

  • Jarrett says:

    Sex addict?