San Francisco swoops for Leipzig’s principal flute

San Francisco swoops for Leipzig’s principal flute


norman lebrecht

April 23, 2022

We hear that the San Francisco Symphony, after months of auditions and trials, has offered the positions of Principal Flute and Principal Cello to:< Sébastian Jacot, Solo Flute Leipzig Gewandhaus (following Timothy Day's retirement) and Rainer Eudeikis, Principal Cello Atlanta Symphony (following the late Michael Grebanier).


  • Couperin says:

    So they won auditions? Or did the orchestra waste a bunch of other people’s time and then just offer the gigs to them?

    • zayin says:

      Why should all auditions be equal? Why *shouldn’t* an established principal from a major orchestra who’s played the repertoire under world class conductors be given *considerably* more weight than a recent grad whose only experience is learning orchestra excepts?

      • Agitato says:

        Quite simply… because Jacot’s was an appointment. This was not won through the audition process.

        Let me be clear – I am not against direct appointments of immensely qualified individuals. But I feel it is completely unnecessary to hold an open audition for a position that you as an organization (or your artistic director) are not completely committed to filling through the open audition process.

    • Steve Lau says:

      Perhaps the audition process did not reveal the quality the symphony was seeking, and that the musicians chosen were simply better.

  • Timmy says:

    Love these “world-class” ensembles that feel the need to have MONTHS of auditions and trials… Such a pretentious waste of everyone’s time, money, resources, etc.

  • TuttiFlutie says:

    Good move on SF’s part to act fast on Sebastian Jacot. Berlin Phil is also looking to fill a Principal Flute position right now due to Mathieu Dufour’s sudden departure.

    Berlin seems to be trialing several top candidates also. Jacot subbed with them in late Feb. on Mahler 2. Too bad they didn’t act fast enough. SF snatched him up first!

    • music lover says:

      Clara Andrada de la Calle from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony subbed at the Berlin Phil Pique Dame concert performance under Kiril Petrenko tonight.She is unbelievable….As was the whole performance,btw

    • Nydo says:

      After being removed from the musician’s list on the Berlin Philharmonic webpage after the announcement a few months ago, Dufour has been back on the musician list for the list for the last month or so, and the announced vacant positions don’t include principal flute. Perhaps they worked out their differences?

    • Bone says:

      I’d bet if Berlin came calling he would pick up the phone. SFO is a fine orchestra but the city…oof.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Like N.Y. or L.A., if you have money, S.F. can be a good place. I’ve been to Berlin (lived in S.F.), and I’m pretty certain that the food and cuisine scene is far better in S.F. If your health care costs are being taken care of by the orchestra (I would assume they get something in the way of health care), the medical situation in S.F. is really quite good. Even when I was on S.F.’s own health care plan for low income people, I received really good medical attention. People only hear and see the bad stuff about S.F., which is mostly confined to downtown (parts), the Mission district, and some outer districts that outsiders don’t go to. From midtown to Ocean Beach, that part of S.F. is nothing like what most people see, or think of it. I still have friends there, and still visit quite often. Whatever its faults, S.F. still gets under my skin like few other places do. Vienna is the only other city that has effected me nearly as much. To be fair, the wall was still up when I last saw Berlin. And sorry to get political, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Putin really has his sites set upon places farther west than Ukraine, and would like to put that wall right back up.

  • JaoaMama says:

    Something wrong with American flautists? Hard to sell a career in music when American orchestras don’t even hire American players or conductors.

    • Nydo says:

      Perhaps they just found Jacot’s playing to be more interesting than any of the American candidates. Incidentally, the principal trumpet at the Gewandhaus over the last few decades was an American; was there something wrong with the German players?

    • TuttiFlutie says:

      You have a point.

    • Tamino says:

      You would agree to all orchestras overseas doing the same, hiring nationally only, so no Americans need to apply?

      Or is it only unfair, when the bloody foreigner is the best?

      • TuttiFlutie says:

        European & UK orchs are much less willing to hire US players than the US is to hire foreign players. Having worked as an orch player on both sides of the pond I assure you that this is true.

        Much of the US still lives under the stigma that Europeans are inherently better at playing & conducting orchs than US musicians. They are also a nation of immigrants so they’re more likely to give an outsider a chance. Not so much in Europe.

        This is esp. true in a city like SF. US West Coast orchs are mostly younger & less prestigious than their East Coast counterparts. The fact that SF & LA are 2 of the highest paying orchs in the US isn’t just because the cost of living is high there, it’s because they know they are competing with “Top 5” east coast orchs for the best talent, IMHO.

        Similarly, the appointment of an elite French Principal Flute (& in the US it’s FLUTIST, not flautist), would put SF more on the international radar & out of its “outlier” orchestral status. And also from personal experience, I can say that SFers, esp. concert going types, can be pretty snooty. They blindly equate all things French with the epitomy of high culture. Audiences there will adore their new 1st flute!

        Jacot is well deserving of this position. He’s a world class player, laureate of important international competitions & has experience with top orchs on 2 other continents. He’s a lovely person as well. SF made an excellent choice.

        But yes, one does have to recall wistfully that he is filling a position which has, for generations, been occupied by a US flutist. . .

        • TuttiFlutie says:

          Quick correction: my mistake – Sebastian Jacot is born in Geneva. He’s Swiss not French.

        • IMeanReally says:

          If you’re going to be pedantic and ridiculous with your “in the US it’s FLUTIST, not flautist” nonsense, then perhaps you might also benefit from knowing that the word you tried to use shortly thereafter is spelled “epitome”, dear.

          • TuttiFlutie says:

            Thank you for the correction on “epitomy”. My mistake.

            Do you have any idea how many times flutists get asked if it’s “flautist” or “flutist”? Or how often we have to listen to ridiculous US aficionados trying to sound erudite by using the word “Flautist” to impress people? Or how many times we get asked which is correct?

            It’s like all the people who decide it’s clever to say to bassists “Gee, I bet you wish you played the flute”. They get sick of it. We get sick of the “flutist” v “flautist” question. Flautist is a British word. “Flutist” is correct in the US. As Sir James Galway once responded: “We play the flute not the flowt”.

            Walk a mile in our shoes, IMeanReally. Your comment is hopelessly ignorant.

  • Agitato says:

    By all means, Esa-Pekka… Just appoint a European man after holding a dead-end audition for principal flute.

    I feel for the two young (American) women who made it through to finals on *complete merit* only to be told that the Artistic Director was using his option to award three discretionary trials – but not to either of them. All three to men, all three European, all three elsewhere employed.

    Only one of them actually showed up to the audition… But then again, he was auto-advanced to the finals, and it’s a very short flight from LA.

    • TuttiFlutie says:

      Wow. That’s disappointing. Still preserving the white European male status quo. And reverting back to MD as dictator. I’m surprised that this was OK with the committee.

      Guessing it was the Danish Princ. Flute of LA Chamber Orch., Joachim Becerra Thomson of Denmark who showed up. Bouriakov wouldn’t leave LA. What a shame for those well deserving women.

  • Player says:

    The San Francisco Symphony did not hire their Principal Flute based on gender, place of birth or by most audition rounds played. Instead, the San Francisco Symphony Principal Flute audition was merit based. After hearing Jacot play orchestral excerpts and a week with the orchestra, the SF Symphony decided to offer him the job because they liked his playing the best.

    • TuttiFlutie says:

      How do you account for Agitato’s comment then? Why would anyone just make that up?

      • Player says:

        Agitato’s comment is not true. There was no dead end audition for flute, a winner was chosen at the audition. Three European men were not given trials and all candidates did show up and play. There were no two women that made it to the final round of the audition, one male candidate did advance to the finals, the other two male candidates were invited to the final round of the audition. In the end, the orchestra compared the playing of the best player from the audition to the invited players and then chose a winner.

    • Trouble in Paradise says:

      “Did not hire their principal flute based on most audition rounds played” – but this is precisely how we are told we most equitably win our positions in orchestras.

      How is being personally invited by the music director, housed, and paid to perform a concert week within the context of the full ensemble a job win by merit? That is a gain by immense privilege.

      It is a slap in the face to those hopefuls who paid out of pocket to attend the audition weekend, and a slap in the face to the flutists who proved their skills in the blind, fair, and *much* less comfortable audition process, round after round.

      If Jacot was not part of the dedicated audition for the position, how on earth is it right that he even come to be presented with an invitation to trial following an actual “merit based audition” where neither of the final round players were offered the opportunity to perform their role within the context of the orchestra?

      Jacot was invitated to perform following the audition. If he truly was later heard playing excerpts in a private audition – if at all, then I’m sorry, but the process resulting in his appointment is quite simply unacceptable and indicative of a desperate need for change in our audition process.

      • Player says:

        First of all, the final round of the San Francisco Principal Flute audition consisted of playing excerpts with the orchestra and a trial week. The statement that Jacot came after the audition was over is not true. Candidates that started in the first round had the opportunity to make it to this final round of the audition, one did.
        Second, most American orchestras have invited candidates straight to the final rounds for Principal positions (nothing new here). My last audition for a big orchestra (not SF) I made it to the finals and discovered that a player with a big job was starting in the final round (both of us didn’t get the job, the winner came from a much smaller orchestra).
        I agree that Jacot had an advantage by being invited straight to the final round, but that advantage is useless if the candidate doesn’t play the best (nobody wants to hire their second favorite player).

  • Ugh says:

    Wow how very ground-breaking. Another white male European invited straight to finals and offered a major U.S. position. Yay. Would be fine if it went both ways. But it does not. Boo.