How to Best Prepare for Orchestral Auditions
Violinist Igor Yuzefovich and conductor Daniel Raiskin share their best advice, ahead of their upcoming masterclass with the North Shore Chamber Music Festival
Orchestral auditions can be a daunting task for many aspiring professional musicians and VC readers were keen to know how to best prepare for them.
Conductor Daniel Raiskin, the Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony and Slovak Philharmonic, and violinist and concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Igor Yuzefovich were happy to share their expert advice.
The two will also present a workshop for young artists on the art of preparing for orchestral auditions through the North Shore Chamber Music Festival's Onstage/Offstage Series on November 20th. Audiences can watch the workshop on The Violin Channel at 12 PM CDT.
Raiskin and Yosefovich, veterans of auditioning musicians for their orchestras, will cover what conductors and concertmasters are listening for in your audition and how to mentally, and physically, prepare for auditions.
Daniel Raiskin & Igor Yuzefovich — How to Best Prepare for Orchestral Auditions
1. Listen to and learn the pieces that the excerpts are taken from - Igor Yuzefovich (IY)
2. Be sure to prepare all the orchestra excerpts on the same level (or even better!) as the concertos and solo works you are required to play. Unless you are auditioning for a concertmaster position, it's usually not a soloist that the orchestra is looking for - Daniel Raiskin (DR)
3. Think about “why” this particular excerpt was chosen. What is the panel looking for in each particular excerpt? Emphasize those points in your playing - IY
4. Use a metronome, even if you think you don’t need to! When practicing with one, try to use the beat as a syncopation and avoid practicing with only regular beats - IY & DR
5. Play along with a recording to get a better understanding of how your line fits in with the rest of the orchestra. When you play in an audition, you’ll be able to hear the rest of the orchestra in your head - IY
6. While practicing for the audition, regularly record yourself on both audio and video and analyze critically for any shortcomings – be your own harshest critic! - DR
7. If the orchestra didn’t provide bowed parts, make sure to get bowings from either someone in your local symphony or teachers - IY
8. Prepare yourself for eventually being asked to repeat parts of the audition excerpts: the panel might want to hear things being played shorter or longer, louder or softer, slower or faster, with more or less vibrato - DR
8. When you feel well prepared, play the excerpts through in various order. Fast excerpts followed by slow, loud to super soft, etc., you never know what order the panel will ask them in, so be prepared - IY
9. Unless explicitly indicated, count all the rests and take particular care about the quality of your counting (the same goes for muted or unmuted passages) - DR
10. Play for leaders or principals of your local symphony orchestra, when possible. The experience of someone who’s played these pieces many times in a concert setting can be invaluable - IY
11. Your instrument, bow, and gear should be in top-notch condition. Be sure you can tune quickly and thoroughly (fine tuners), that your bow has enough hair, and that your shoulder rest (if you are using one) is not falling off every 5 minutes - DR
12. Do mock auditions. Ask your friends to sit as a mock panel and call out excerpts and write down their comments - IY
13. Be prepared for a potential conversation with the members of the panel or the music director. This should not be a shock and you want to come across as genuine as possible - DR
14. Don’t try to play in a style that you think would match a certain orchestra. Play the way you play - IY
15. Remember that you are first and foremost a musician! The audition panel wants to hear that they are dealing with an aware, sensitive, emotional, and inspiring potential colleague. Shape even all clearly secondary lines with the greatest care - DR
16. Try to take the pressure out: an orchestra you are auditioning for should want you as much as you want to get a job with them! Play to enjoy, don’t play to please - IY & DR
17. Take it easy if you do not succeed in an audition. Keep practicing and working: there is always a job out there that is waiting for you! - DR