Four auditions done.
Audition #4 conductor had told me on the spot that as much as he liked my playing, he didn't have a position for me. The personnel manager of the orchestra from Audition #3 called to give me the news that the conductor "loved your playing, but didn't think you were right for assistant 1st." They wanted to add me to their sub list. I said yes.
I didn't hear from Orchestra #2 for quite awhile except for a phone call from the conductor asking me to check my schedule against their rehearsal and concert calendar. Wow! I thought, they are serious about me. Then one of the audition committee had a family emergency to attend to, so there was no decision. When I finally heard from them, it was an email from the personnel manager saying they had selected someone else, but I was welcome to audition again in the future. I emailed them back offering to sub or play extra. At least I knew they had seriously considered me.
The 1st horn player from the first orchestra I auditioned for called me about a month later and asked if I would be interested in playing on Ein Heldenleben as one of the extra horns. Yes!!! He was a little vague though, and we ended our conversation setting up a time for me to come play for him. He asked me to prepare some Strauss and Mahler excerpts. So I spent a week working up excerpts from Heldenleben and Mahler's 1st. I went to meet him, we found a practice room, and he got out his horn, too. We played quite a lot together -- he chose a number of duet-type sections. Unfortunately, he selected mostly different excerpts than the ones I had spent the most time on. At the end, he still wasn't completely sure what the plans were for choosing the extra horns. I left the building not knowing what to think. However, within a week he had called and asked me to play 8th horn. Yay!!!
I was so excited. I started telling all my friends and also notified the conductor of the band I'm in that I wouldn't be able to play one of the Christmas concerts. Then the principal horn called again to tell me that the conductor had cancelled Heldenleben -- the concertmaster, who has a huge solo in the piece, had injured his wrist. Maybe they would reschedule it for the next season. He was just as disappointed as I was.
Maybe to try to make up for not getting to play Heldenleben, he told me that a chamber orchestra in the area was looking for a horn player for a concert. So I called the contact person and ended up playing two concerts in the 09-10 season with the Salt Creek Sinfonietta. I had such a good time playing with this group. The first concert was Mendelssohn, including the Midsummer's Night Dream music, and the second concert was all Mozart, including Symphony #40. I played 2nd horn to two different 1st horn players, both very good. The conductor was also very good and the group had a lot of nice people in it. Best of all was getting to play with an orchestra again after so many years, and getting to play such wonderful music.
What I found out by going through all these auditions is that, at least in Chicago, getting into a community orchestra as a horn player is a daunting task. One of the horn players I met in Salt Creek said, "You can't ever quit a community orchestra because you'll never get back in." There are just so many good horn players here -- lots of nonprofessionals who are good, plus recent graduates of the excellent music schools in Chicago, and the members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. I didn't give up on ever getting a permanent spot in a community group, but it didn't look like it would be happening this year.