Disappointment was "inevitable" when the English Touring Opera (ETO) diversified its orchestra, its management says.
The organisation has offered a belated response to criticism from the Musicians' Union (MU) over its decision to cut 13 of its long-contracted freelance musicians in September.
ETO says open auditions were held for the first time in many years because the orchestra was exclusively made up of people who played on previous seasons or were recommended by them.
"We also felt that this would help us to progress our ambitions in the fields of equality, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace," a statement released on Wednesday (December 8) reads.
44 musicians were auditioned out of 266 applicants and selections were "based solely on those musicians’ capabilities, on the grounds of excellence only".
"With so many high-quality players in the pool it was inevitable that some would be disappointed," ETO said.
It plans to repeat the process next summer: "In advance of that, we plan to consult widely with other performing companies, and relevant industry organisations, including the MU, so that we can provide further reassurance of equal and fair treatment."