Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mock Day Part II: How it Happens

OK, my blood sugar has stabilized a bit and I'm ready to report in more depth on Mock Day. I think that some may not have any idea what happens at a conservatory mock audition of this type, so I'll cover the proceedings in some detail.

The auditions took place in the acoustically and visually lovely Griswold Hall, pictured above. We sat at a table on the left in front of the seats - not on stage.

THE LIST: As stated before, the list of repertoire for this semester's orchestra class was:

Beethoven 9th
Strauss: Don Juan
Bach: 2nd Orchestral Suite, "Double" and "Badinerie"
Mozart: Sym. No. 35
Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, 1st mvt.
Mahler: Sym. No. 1, 3rd mvt.
Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kije, bass solos

(For the entire two-year curriculum, see here.)

From this list, the following excerpts were chosen for the short list (mentioned in the previous post):

- 1st mvt., Letter H to six after letter I
- 4th mvt. Recitatives complete and Allegro Assai for 24 bars
- 4th mvt. letter K to letter M
- 4th mvt. 8 before letter O to letter O

- Bass I, 1st mvt. bars 38-56

Mahler and Prokofiev complete
- Strauss:
- A to four after B
- F to G
- Ten before Q to S

Bach: complete, no repeats

- 1st mvt. beginning to B
- 4th mvt. complete

From this short list, the students actually played the following, in this order:

Beethoven Recitatives
Strauss: A to four after B
Mozart 35: 1st mvt., beginning to 16 after A
Beethoven: 4th mvt, K to M
Bach: complete excerpts
Strauss: F to G
Beethoven: 1st mvt. letter H to six after letter I
Mozart: 4th mvt. 10 after D to E
Strauss: Ten before Q to S
Bartok: complete excerpt
Prokofiev: complete excerpt

We selected both the short list and the actual playing list based on several factors. The first is of course to simply choose enough material for a manageable practice and audition schedule. The second is to choose excerpts that show a wide variety of musical and technical skills. The third is to focus on excerpts that are asked most in actual orchestra auditions.

Each student signs up for a 20-minute time slot. The audition is held behind a screen, although given our intimate knowledge of the playing of our students this doesn't really ensure anonymity. The more important function of the screen is to give the students the experience of playing for a committee that they can't see. We had a set of screens set up around the table where we were sitting - it would have been way too much trouble to try and screen the entire stage area. They were not allowed to speak to us during the audition and instead relayed all questions through a proctor.

We videotaped everyone's audition, and each student will be able to view their audition on their own password-protected Peabody website.

In the next post, I'll cover how we grade and judge the auditions, and what the students get out of them.

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