That photo of Mark Inouye playing in London with the NYPO doesn't mean he is out the door at SFS. Here's how the orchestral audition process works:
- Open call for musicians to send tapes.
- The tapes are used to cull the field down to those who will audition in person.
- Live auditions take place.
- If the audition committee and MD don't like any candidates enough, another round is scheduled. (This is currently SFS's situation for timpani and associate principal trumpet)
- If any candidates were good enough, they're offered trial weeks. (This is what Inouye is currently doing with NY. We had Eugene Izotov and a couple of other oboe players sitting in last fall.)
- After the trial weeks, the orchestra might make someone an offer. (But not always: Erin Keefe, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, did trial weeks at the NYPO last year, but was not ultimate offered the job.)
- If the player accepts the offer and has a job elsewhere, such as Inouye or Izotov, the player usually goes on leave for a year. Izotov will be on leave from the CSO next season. David Herbert, though, is not on leave from SFS. He resigned outright to go to the CSO, and that's why SFS has held timpani auditions this season.
- At the end of the year, the player has to either stay with the new orchestra or go back to the old one. Jonathan Fischer is still on the SFS roster (weirdly, on the web site, he is still listed as acting principal even though Mingjia Liu has played most of this season). This is because of the disarray in the oboes, with Fischer in a trial year at Houston when Bill Bennett died. With Izotov's appointment, Fischer has to decide whether he is staying as Houston's principal or coming back as associate principal. I bet he stays in Houston. He has no chance of becoming principal here unless Izotov doesn't work out. Even then, he may well have auditioned for principal and not gotten tapped.