We've had a few days off from Mourning Becomes Electra this week, and in the downtime I took an audition and continued a series of interviews I've had with Automattic, the company that runs WordPress. I drove to Sarasota, Florida on Thursday to take their fourth horn audition. Rebecca actually flew in for the second horn audition on Tuesday, and I was disappointed we missed each other. It would have been great to see her again!
There's a number of stereotypical personalities in the warm up room at an audition, if you haven't seen "Waiting Room at a Horn Audition" check it out. In this case, I was the jerk showing up to a fourth horn audition with a triple... But because the second horn auditions had been going on all week, no one was feeling particularly chatty, and I was in the last group. The warm up room/waiting areas were pretty quiet, and people seemed tired. Of the 19 players, the committee only passed one person on to the next round. The rep list wasn't too long, and the first round was Beethoven 9 (THE fourth solo), Shostakovich 5, Mahler 1 (minor Frere Jacques), and some excerpts from Brahms 4 and Mendelssohn 3 I hadn't known prior to preparing for this audition.
I heard some good playing from the hallway, but I think when players fixate on the notes they lose quality of sound and the shimmer that makes a horn sound glow. Blasting out Shostakovich 5 with a centered tone and good intonation is hard! You can't hear everything through the walls, but it seemed that a number of players had difficulty maintaining the focus in their sound. Everyone was hitting the notes, but only one player made it sound effortless and smooth, the one who passed to the second round. Agility in the low range is a challenge, and the first round excerpts were useful for immediately exposing issues with flexibility and articulation. It was good to be back in the audition chair and be able to reflect on where I need work. I was well prepared, but the experience itself is never exactly what you're expecting. The art of auditioning is a difficult one.
My consolation prize for not passing the first round wasn't bad though... I had a great omelette with GF toast and grits at the café across the street!
This week I also had an interview with Automattic, the company that runs WordPress.com and WordPress.org software. This was my second interview over Skype chat, and I had emailed with the interviewer as well. I've been interviewing to be a Happiness Engineer. (Who wouldn't want that on their resume? It sounds like a job at Disney World.) I'll be answering support tickets, monitoring forums and otherwise assisting and teaching WordPress users. I've taught a lot of FancyDog clients to use the WordPress system, not to mention I taught myself, so I'm familiar with the learning process and what people will have questions about.
Automattic's company culture is pretty amazing. First of all, everyone works remotely from wherever they want. Second, unlimited vacation days. The company is more concerned with accomplishing goals than with people putting in a particular number of hours. Once a year, the whole company meets up in a designated place and spends a week working together, which sounds like a ton of fun. The whole attitude is expecting employees to have a life and interests outside of work, while trusting that the team will accomplish what needs to be done without constant supervision.
I'm starting my trial period as a Happiness Engineer in the next couple weeks. I will be trained to use the Happiness Engineer online tools, and will spend about a month doing the job on a temporary contract. Then the company will decide if I'm a good fit. Not many companies in the "real world" do this type of thing, although a trial year in an orchestra is very common. Automattic hires carefully, so they have a very low turnover rate and a great team. I streamed the WordCamp conference this summer, where people give presentations on different aspects of using WordPress, and a Happiness Engineer made a great presentation that got me interested in the job. It's the perfect arrangement for a working musician. I don't have to worry about getting time off for gigs or being unable to travel, while having the benefits of a full-time job... not to mention something I'm passionate about!