Early in 2011, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will hold auditions hoping to fill two vacancies in our cello section. In my twelve years of hearing auditions as a member of this ensemble, hundreds of cellists have presented themselves on our stage. Some have done so several times. Their audience is a committee of nine members of the orchestra who sit behind a screen in our otherwise-empty hall. Some of us take notes during the performances, but the only thing that matters to the process is the simple "yes" or "no" each committee member marks on a blank index card after every player has finished. If a candidate receives at least six "yes" votes in a preliminary audition, he or she advances to the final round. To those unfamiliar with the [...]
About Brant Taylor
Born in New York, Brant Taylor began cello studies at the age of 8. His varied career includes solo appearances and collaborations with leading chamber musicians throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as orchestral, pedagogical, and popular music activities. After one year as a member of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Taylor was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Daniel Barenboim in 1998. In Chicago, Mr. Taylor’s recital appearances include the Dame Myra Hess Concerts, First Monday Concerts, Rush Hour Concerts at St. James Cathedral, the Ravinia Festival’s Rising Stars recital series, and regular live radio broadcasts from the studios of WFMT. He has appeared regularly with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and on the contemporary chamber music series MusicNow.
Mr. Taylor made his solo debut with the San Antonio Symphony at the age of 14 after winning a concerto competition, and has since been soloist with numerous orchestras, performing the works of Dvorak, Haydn, Elgar, Shostakovich, Lalo, Boccherini, Saint-Saens, and Brahms, among others.
From 1992-97, Mr. Taylor was cellist of the award-winning Everest Quartet, prizewinners at the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet performed and taught extensively in North America and the Caribbean, and gave the world premiere performance of a work by Israeli-American composer Paul Schoenfield.
In 1997, Mr. Taylor was a member of the New World Symphony. He has returned to appear as soloist with that orchestra under the batons of Michael Tilson-Thomas and Nicholas McGegan, as well as to teach and participate in audition training seminars.
In 2002, Mr. Taylor began a seven-year association with the band Pink Martini. With this eclectic ensemble, he has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, “The Late Show with David Letterman”, at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and in venues ranging from nightclubs to concert halls across North America. He can be heard on Pink Martini’s 2006 release, “Hey Eugene.”
Mr. Taylor is a frequent performer and teacher at music festivals, including the Festival der Zukunft in Ernen, Switzerland, the Portland Chamber Music Festival, the Shanghai International Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, the Mammoth Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Music Festival Santo Domingo, Michigan’s Village Bach Festival, and Music at Gretna in Pennsylvania, where he has made repeated appearances as a concerto soloist. Mr. Taylor has also served as Principal Cello of the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra since 2006.
Active as a teacher of both cello and chamber music, Mr. Taylor serves on the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music. He has also been a faculty member at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and Northwestern University’s National High School Music Institute, and has led classes on pedagogy and orchestral repertoire at the University of Michigan. Mr. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, where he won the school’s Concerto Competition and performed as soloist with the Eastman Philharmonia. His Master of Music degree is from Indiana University. Mr. Taylor’s primary teachers have been Janos Starker and Paul Katz.