Nepotism Falls from Fashion at the Cleveland Orchestra

In February, we wrote a story about nepotism and the perceived unfairness of auditions in the Cleveland Orchestra [“Sour Notes,” February, 14], which drew 427 responses from musicians and fans around the world. At the time, members of the orchestra complained that concert master William Preucil was abusing his power. They claimed that Preucil used his position to win prestigious posts for family members. Since Preucil’s 1995 arrival, his sister, brother-in-law, and daughter had all secured coveted spots in the orchestra. All won the positions after auditions that Preucil helped judge. At the time, the Cleveland Orchestra was one of the few that didn’t use screens to prevent judges from knowing who was auditioning. It was also one of the few orchestras that didn’t forbid somone from judging a family member’s tryout. Executive director Gary Hanson vehemently defended the practice, telling Scene that “It's always been that way. The quality of our orchestra is the best argument for the success of our audition process." But seven months later, it appears Hanson has had a change of heart. For the first time in its 85 year history, the Cleveland Orchestra will be changing its auditioning procedures. Now, screens will be mandatory at all auditions. And in an indirect blow Preucil, relatives will no longer be able to judge a family member. The orchestra got to see just how well these new rules worked last month when Preucil’s daughter Lexi auditioned for a prime spot in the violin section. Without her uncle, aunt, or father judging, Lexi didn’t make it past the first round. – Rebecca Meiser

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