The audition: terrifying, exhilarating, and honest. You face the judges, but most of all, you face yourself–your progress and shortcomings. Most musicians undergo countless number of auditions. I auditioned in high school, several times in college, and in competition. In Hibike! Euphonium, Reina and Kaori must audition for the solo part for their band’s competition performance. The first trial is closed, with student and instructor alone behind the door. With the rumors that crop up after Reina’s win, a second trial is then held on stage before the entire group.
It’s clear from the start of the show that Reina is passionate for whatever holds her attention: her trumpet, her instructor, and her friendship with Kumiko. But her high position in the band despite being a first year brings with it whispers of an unfair advantage: the teacher is good friends with her parents, who are famous in the music world. Students playing next to her hear the quality of sound every day in rehearsal, but still attribute her high seat to instructor favor out of unfair jealousy. It’s a sucky place to be, but Reina proudly holds her goals in place.
Section leader Kaori is in her last year of school, and has never experienced a spotlight role. While she loves the trumpet and is a dependable leader of the entire group, her practicing still lacks the sparkle every memorable performance gives. Her gentle soul grips the hearts of both her band mates and the viewer, and I can’t help but feel for her desire to perform in what is very likely her last chance on a stage of this level. Though Kaori has all the heart to win, as well as the time in practice to warrant it, hearing Reina’s performance right after hers makes it unquestionably clear who the better player is. The sound does not lie.