Section Principals

This year the Northwest Mahler Festival is appointing string, wind, brass, percussion, piano and harp principals for the Festival Finale Concert.

The objective of this initiative is to preserve the traditional open nature of NWMF participation while imparting to it a structure and discipline which will allow the highest possible standards of performance within a secure and comfortable artistic environment.

Structure within the Concert Orchestra

  1. The principals will play first chair in the major work at the July concert and any other performances given during the season, but will not play first chair in the other work(s) unless there is no-one else qualified.
  2. The principals will help to plan the disposition of their sections for the concert with the board and Music Director, prior to Board ratification.
  3. The seating process will be artistically led in the broadest sense: seeking to combine the best possible choices for the good of the section and the orchestra with the creation of the best possible opportunities for all participants, considering their standards and aspirations.
  4. The principals will have the ultimate authority to ensure that their sections play well together even when they themselves are not playing first chair. (The right of leadership of the person sitting first chair for a given work will however be respected.)
  5. The principals will be available for section members to turn to, over scheduling issues and also for most general matters concerning their participation in the Festival. Should there be a problem the principal will bring it either to the Music Director–if it is artistic–or to the Board for administrative matters.

Appointment of Principals

  1. The appointments are for one season only. Other equally qualified players will be invited to be principals in subsequent seasons. It must however be noted that, while first chair opportunities in a variety of musical works will be created for many fine players, the appointment of annual principals will be limited only to those who are fully ready for the responsibility. It may be that one person repeats as principal of a section for one or more years if, in the judgment of the Music Director and supported by the Board, only that person is fully qualified.
  2. The appointment of principals will be by invitation of past principals and by audition. In the rare circumstance that when no applicants are deemed qualified, the board or music director may recruit a section principal who has not auditioned but is well known to be qualified.
  3. In the future, if and when new musicians wish to join the NWMF with a view to being principal, the Music Director will listen to them, along with a panel, and make recommendations to the board.
  4. Present members are not required to audition, whether for principal or any other seating position, unless they would like more of their playing to be heard, in which case they are most welcome.
  5. Principals will only be appointed if they are available for the entire set of concert rehearsals.

Principals and Reading Sessions

  1. The 1st chair role of the principal does not extend to the reading sessions, which retain their open seating, however, principals ARE expected to participate in at least two reading sessions in order to become more familiar with the playing of the section. This will also help to build more cohesive sections. Principals should not necessarily play first chair in the readings, and may elect to site out in order to listen to all participants. Ideally, principals will participate in all reading sessions, or will at least attend to listen.