Allemande or Sarabande for an audition piece?

Edited: September 29, 2018, 7:52 PM · Which piece do you think is better for a Youth Orchestra Audition? Thank you, C.
EDIT: From Partita no 2. I forgot to add.
EDIT (again): Let me add Gigue to that list as well.

Replies (12)

September 29, 2018, 11:04 AM · You hear the Allemanda a lot.

If you can really nail the Sarabanda, keeping double-stops in tune and not letting the dance rhythm slither away, that could be more impressive.

Edited: September 29, 2018, 12:23 PM · I agree with Stephen -- but it *has* to be played well. If you're looking for a *single* orchestra audition piece, though, my money would be on a faster show-piece, something that shows your ability to play important orchestral bowings and a good command of the fingerboard in higher positions. Like maybe "Souvenir de Sarasate" or "Allegro Brilliante". Bach does not showcase those skills. They won't need you to play a lot of double stops or chords in a youth symphony. If I were an orchestra conductor I would rather hear a well played D minor Corrente or Giga than a well played Allemande or Sarabande.
September 29, 2018, 1:36 PM · I agree with Paul. Play a fast piece in tune and cleanly and with good tone. It doesn't have to be a really difficult piece.
September 29, 2018, 7:43 PM · Would I be better off playing the Gigue in D minor then?
September 29, 2018, 9:38 PM · If you can play it well, I think so. I'm not a pro or a teacher though. It's still not clear whether you're just playing one piece. It would rather surprise me if a youth symphony had a lot of excerpts that you had to learn up front, but maybe some of the nationally competitive ones do (or statewide in a big state like TX or CA).
September 30, 2018, 12:03 AM · Paul, I have to play 3 excerpts and a piece of my own choice.
Edited: September 30, 2018, 2:47 AM · It makes no real difference what you choose to play, only how well you play it.

Having sat on many audition panels for schools, festivals, honor groups, etc. in the past couple decades, I've heard just about everything that students might play at an audition, from Vivaldi A minor to the Sibelius concerto, hundreds, if not thousands of times. What comes across most strongly is rhythmic integrity, pitch accuracy, tone quality, and an understanding of the music being played.

Your excerpts mean a lot. In fact, I personally put more weight on the quality of a player's excerpts than their solo, because they've had less time to prepare them in comparison. In orchestral playing, sometimes you don't get a ton of time to learn the music, and one's ability to read and prepare a lot of music in a short time frame is a skill that is highly desirable. Make sure you look at the full score if it is easily available on IMSLP, and listen to the recordings so you have an idea of the context of the part.

September 30, 2018, 6:42 PM · Thank you Gene, that is really helpful!
October 1, 2018, 8:36 AM · Weren't you learning Mendelssohn recently? That's much harder than either of the Bach movements mentioned. If the first 2-3 minutes of that could be polished up to audition level, that would be my suggestion. Otherwise I would go with the Gigue. But Gene is exactly right about what people listen for in an audition.
Edited: October 1, 2018, 1:43 PM · The problem with Mendelssohn is how polished do you want those octaves to be on the first page.
October 1, 2018, 10:06 AM · Having sat on many youth orchestra audition committees and coached students for auditions, this is one of my important guidelines:
-Ability to play in higher positions. First violins in youth orchestras (depending on the overall level of course) often have problem reading and figuring out music about 3rd position. They are uncomfortable utilizing 2nd and 4th position, or recognizing intervals in the high positions.
-Ability to play accurate rhythms, especially dotted and double-dotted, and count rests accurately. As we know, most students and amateurs are infamous for turning all dotted rhythms into triplets.

The excerpts should theoretically show the required skills in high positions and rhythm, but don't always.
So I would try to chose repertoire that further demonstrates those skills. Double stops are not necessary in a youth orchestra audition.

"In orchestral playing, sometimes you don't get a ton of time to learn the music, and one's ability to read and prepare a lot of music in a short time frame is a skill that is highly desirable"

Gene points out what I always tell my students: "If you had all summer to prepare the excerpts but didn't, the committee might assume you won't learn your music in a shorter time period..."

October 1, 2018, 8:21 PM · Mary, I only learnt the second movement of the Mendelssohn. Is it not too slow for an audition, in light of what Paul was saying about speed?

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