Mercury Orchestra


Who are we?
We are a diverse group of advanced musicians united by a passion for playing large-scale orchestral works at a high level. Many of us have conservatory musical training. We may have committed to careers or other pursuits outside of music, but have orchestral performance and its process etched into our core being. We come together every summer with the common goal to create enjoyable, interesting and fulfilling programs to the Boston/Cambridge community.

Who should audition?
Mercury Orchestra members typically have had substantial formal instruction in their instrument and sufficient orchestral experience so that they are comfortable with standard repertoire and can learn new repertoire fairly quickly (important due to the compressed rehearsal timelines); most actively play in other groups. The Mercury Orchestra is a community effort involving approximately one hundred advanced instrumentalists of all ages from the greater Cambridge/Boston (Massachusetts) area. Programming from prior years is available on our Concerts page. All orchestra positions are volunteer/no-pay/no-fee.

What orchestra positions are open?
The orchestra has open positions in violin, viola, violoncello, and contrabass.

Rehearsal substitute positions are open for flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn, clarinet, E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, French horn, trumpet, tenor trombone, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion, and harp.

How do I audition?
The next auditions for new members and substitute members will be held in May 2024. Auditions will be in-person and will be held at the Cambridge Music Consortium, 315 Broadway, Cambridge, MA. Audition candidates should prepare a 2-3 minute solo excerpt, preferably taken from the first movement of a romantic concerto or sonata, and 2 or 3 orchestral excerpts preferably chosen from the listing below. Musicians playing accessory instruments or instruments not listed below may bring 2-3 contrasting orchestral excerpts of their own choosing. All auditions are by appointment and will be heard by an audition committee. Audition results will be communicated by e-mail; we regret that we are unable to provide personalized feedback within this notification. All candidates are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Information about scheduling an audition will be provided here in May 2024.

(all excerpts below are from Violin I parts)
Schumann: Symphony No. 1, Allegro molto vivace through m. 76
Mahler: Symphony No. 2, 5th mvt., reh 23 (top line) until 2 bars before reh 25
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, 3rd mvt., Lo stesso tempo mm. 99-114
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”, 2nd mvt., reh 3 to reh 5
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, 1st mvt., 2 before F until m. 554
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, 3rd mvt. (Rondo), opening to rehearsal O
Tchaikovsky: Overture to Nutcracker, either line, reh G to 2 after H

Brahms: Symphony No. 4, 4th movement, reh B to D
Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scherzo, reh C to D
Mozart: Symphony No. 35, 4th movement, mm. 1-37
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, 2nd movement, mm. 1-10
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, 4th movement, mm. 42-60
Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture, 2 after reh 1 to reh 4
Tchaikovsky: Symphohy No. 6, 1st movement, mm. 19-62 (top line)

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, 2nd mvt., mm. 1-10; 49-60; 98-106
Brahms: Symphony No. 2, 2nd mvt., mm. 1-15
Brahms: Symphony No. 2, 4th mvt., mm. 1-42
Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, mm. 1-24
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, 2nd mvt., mm. 21-42
Mendelssohn: Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, reh C to D
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, 2nd movement, mm. 1-16

Brahms: Symphony No. 1, 1st mvt., rehearsal E to first ending
Brahms: Symphony No. 2, 1st mvt., rehearsal E to F
Brahms: Symphony No. 2, 4th mvt., m. 244 to reh M
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, 3rd mvt., mm.139-218
Mozart: Symphony No. 40, 1st mvt., pickup to m. 115 to m. 138; mm. 191-225
Mozart: Symphony No. 40, 4th mvt., mm. 49-70

Mendelssohn: Scherzo from A Midsummer Night&rsquols Dream: 2 bars before P to the end
Ravel: Bolero, bar 5 to [1]
Beethoven: Leonore Overture #3: opening and mm. 328-360
Dvořák: Symphony No, 8, 4th mvt: [D] to [E]
Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2, [176] to 2 mm. after [179]
Brahms: Symphony No. 4, 4th mvt., 13 after [D] to 8 before [E]
Bizet: Carmen, Entr’acte before Act III, also designated No. 2 Intermezzo in Carmen Suite No. 1
Rossini: William Tell: 15 bars before [F] until 18 bars before [H]
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf: [2] to [4]

Bach: “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen”, BWV 12, mvt. 1, beginning to down beat of m. 9
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3, mvt. 2, reh A to reh B and 5 mm. before reh C to 13 mm. after reh C
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, reh 10 to 2 mm. after reh 13
Ravel: Le tombeau de Coupérin, Prelude, beginning to reh 2 and Minuet, beginning to reh 3
Schumann: Symphony No. 2, mvt. 2, mm. 8-19

Brahms: Symphony No. 3, 2nd mvt., mm. 1-22
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8, 2nd mvt., reh A to reh B
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol, mvt. 1, reh A to reh B
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, 1st mvt., mm. 54-80 and mm. 153-160

Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, mm. 101-123 and mm. 139-171
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4, 4th mvt., solo (mm. 184-190)
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, opening solo (to reh 4)
Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration, 6 mm. before reh P to 1 m. before reh R
Mahler: Symphony No. 1, 3rd mvt., reh 2 to 2 mm. before rehearsal 3 and 4th mvt., reh 40 to 3 measures before reh 41
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6, 1st mvt., mm. 1-12

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, 1st mvt., mm. 84-102
Brahms: Symphony No. 3, 3rd mvt., mm. 98-110 (F to 12 after F)
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt., mm. 17-21
Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, opening solo, mm. 6-20
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5, 2nd mvt. solo, mm. 8-28

Beethoven: Leonore Overture No. 2, off stage call, mm. 392-397 and mm. 406-411
Mahler: Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt., opening to 6m after rehearsal #1; 1 m. before reh 13 to 1m. before reh 14
Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition, opening to reh 2
Respighi: Pines of Rome, 2nd mvt., Tromba Interna solo, 8-17 mm. after reh 10
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker, Le Chocolate

Berlioz: Hungarian March from Damnation of Faust, 1 m. before reh 4 to 2 m. after reh 5
Mahler: Symphony No. 3, 1st mvt., 2 mm. after reh 13 to reh 17
Schumann: Symphony No. 3, 4th mvt., mm. 1-23
Stravinsky: Pulcinella, Duetto
Wagner: Overture to Die Walküre, m. 5 to 3 mm. after reh 6

Haydn: The Creation, No. 26, beginning to downbeat of 19 mm. after B
Kodály: Háry János Suite, 4th mvt., m.5 to 7 mm. after reh 1
Kodály: Háry János Suite, 4th mvt., 4 mm. after Poco meno mosso to 10 mm. after reh 6
Respighi: Fountains of Rome, reh 11 to reh 14
Rossini: Overture to La gazza ladra, mm. 115-132 and mm. 433-442
Schumann: Symphony No. 3, 4th mvt., beginning to 13 after A
Wagner: Lohengrin, Introduction to Act 3, B to C

Berlioz: Hungarian March from The Damnation of Faust, reh 4 to reh 5
Gershwin: An American in Paris, reh 67 to reh 68
Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis, 4 before M to P
Mahler: Symphony No. 1, 3rd mvt, solo 4 mm. before reh 3, to 3 mm. before reh 5
Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition, Bydlo
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt, reh 3 to reh 6
Wagner: Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, J to L

When does the orchestra play?
The orchestra rehearses twice a week in the 4 to 5 weeks preceding each concert. The orchestra plays only during the summer. Members typically play in one or more concerts depending upon instrumentation and availability.

In 2023, the orchestra rehearses primarily at the Cambridge Masonic Hall, 1950 Massachusetts Avenue, Porter Square, Cambridge, MA. Rehearsals take place typically Sunday afternoons and Thursday evenings from mid-June to late August.

2023 Season
CONCERT #1 — Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge
Saturday, July 15, 2023, 8:00 pm

GUSTAV MAHLER Symphony No. 9 in D (1908-1909) (87’)
picc,4fl,4ob(4=eh),Eb cl,3cl,bcl,4bn(4=cbn),4hn,3tr,3trb,tuba,timp(2 players),perc(Glock,3 tiefe Glocken,Trgl,Becken,Tamtam,kl Trommel,gr Trommel),2hp,strings

Sun Jun 18, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
Thu Jun 22, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Jun 25, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
Thu Jun 29, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Jul 2, NO REHEARSAL / Independence Day
Wed Jul 5, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Jul 9, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
Wed Jul 12, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
FRI JUL 14, 7:30 PM-10:00 PM DRESS / Sanders
SAT JUL 15, 7:00 PM-10:00 PM CONCERT / Sanders

Masonic Temple Porter Square, 1950 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138

CONCERT #2 — Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston
Saturday, August 26, 2023, 7:30 pm

ESTER MÄGI Bukoolika (Bucolic) (1996) (9')
2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, 4 hn, 2 tpt, 3 trb, tuba, timp, perc (tamburo piccolo, trgl, campano), piano, celesta, harp, strings

PIOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 23 (Second Edition, 1879) (34')
2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, 4 hn, 2 tpt, 3 trb, timp, strings

SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 (1935-1936) (40')
2 fl+picc, 2 ob+Eh, 2cl+bcl,2 bn+cbn, 4 hn, 3 tpt, 3 trb, tuba, timp, perc (tgl/tamb/SD/cyms/BD/tam-t/xyl), 2 hp, celesta, strings

Wed Aug 2, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Aug 6, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
Thu Aug 10, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Aug 13, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
Thu Aug 17, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM Masonic
Sun Aug 20, 2:00 PM-4:30 PM Masonic
WED AUG 23, 7:00 PM-10:00 PM Jordan
FRI AUG 25, 7:00 PM-10:00 PM DRESS / Jordan
SAT AUG 26, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM CONCERT / Jordan

Masonic Temple Porter Square, 1950 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St, Boston, MA 02115

To be notified of auditions in future seasons, please consider joining our auditions information list here.

How can I find out more information?
Please contact our auditions coordinator at