Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How not to keep a secret

Following the retirement of Stanley Drucker as principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic at the end of last season, the orchestra is auditioning potential successors in concerts. After last weekend's performances of Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony, in whose adagio the solo clarinet plays a prominent role, a New York Times critic asked for the name of the soloist. The philharmonic's press office would not name him.

"[T]he orchestra has invited a series of guest clarinetists to sit in, to test their mettle and see how they relate to the rest of the orchestra," James Oestreich writes on The Times' Arts Beat blog. "That is standard practice in the business. But the orchestra is treating public performances as if they were private auditions, not wanting to give one player a leg up over others through any sort of outside judgment."

The Times learned that the guest clarinetist was Burt Hara, principal clarinetist of the Minnesota Orchestra. Discovering his identity was not very difficult, I suspect. When 100-odd musicians know a secret, it's not a secret for long.