Best Pieces for Auditions

October 25, 2018, 10:19 PM · Hi. I am a high school student currently working on Perpetuum Mobile by Novacek. While it is not the most difficult piece, I am performing it in my winter recital. Before Novacek, I played Mozart 4 and Bruch. I have a spring recital and an audition in June. I want to bring my teacher some piece ideas. So far I had Wieniawski 2 (1st mov), Saint-Saens 3 (1st mov or 3rd). I am not sure what else I should suggest. Any suggestions? I want to get into the most advanced ensemble at my orchestra. I am currently first violin in the second highest.

Replies (8)

October 25, 2018, 11:14 PM · I'd let your teacher pick. They presumably know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how to help you do well at auditions without compromising the pedagogical path they've got you on. You do need to make sure that your teacher is aware of any time constraints on the audition and recital repertoire.

June is a long way off, and the array of repertoire available to a student who can play the Bruch well is rather vast.

October 26, 2018, 12:43 AM · I assume by Bruch, you mean the Scottish Fantasy? Have you played the Mendelssohn or the Tchaikovsky? You don't mention your grade and whether you're thinking of the violin seriously enough to try for a conservatory. If so, the M. and the T. will be standard fare, good to have under your belt. As an aside, I know a retired professor from Oberlin who said he classifies incoming students based on whether or not they've studied the Tchaikovsky. If the student had already studied it, then it's an extra year he has time to spend with the student on preparing other pieces.
Edited: October 26, 2018, 8:34 AM · I would assume the OP means the Bruch G minor. Scottish Fantasy is much harder than the repertoire listed and so is the Tchaikovsky. Lydia gives good advice.
October 26, 2018, 9:47 AM · Either of the listed pieces would probably be fine. If your auditions are anything like my kids' are, they only hear about 2 minutes of the first piece, and 1 minute of the second (if they even hear a second). So make sure you pick pieces that have enough content upfront to demonstrate your abilities.
October 26, 2018, 11:29 AM · June's a long way off, and it sounds like this is just a local student orchestra audition for placement. That means that it should have minimal influence on the pedagogical path. The teacher just needs to keep timing in mind so that they're reasonably certain that whatever the OP is studying will be audition-ready and fit the audition requirements. That probably won't really be an influence on the pieces chosen.

If there's anything the OP has always wanted to play, it's worth mentioning it to their teacher, though. I suspect it's always easier to teach students stuff they love, and a lot of works at the post-Bruch level (yes, I meant the G minor concerto, which is usually the "gateway" work for the Romantic concertos) are somewhat interchangeable pedagogically.

Edited: October 26, 2018, 11:47 AM · I would ask players in the orchestra you're trying to get into what they played for their auditions to get a better idea of the expectations at that level. More important than the actual selection is that you can play the piece in tune and in time. A solid Bruch is better than a shaky Saint Saens.

Mendelssohn would be a really hard piece to audition with- if you're nervous, the intonation could really go badly and just sound painful. It's also really hard to keep in time without accompaniment. Wieniawski is really fun to play; Saint Saens is more serious. Both would be good audition pieces and a good next step given your current repertoire.

October 26, 2018, 2:20 PM · I am in 9th Grade and I am also applying for camps. Just to clarify I meant the Bruch Violin Concerto.
October 26, 2018, 2:48 PM · It matters not what you audition with, but how well you execute it.

Rhythm, notes, intonation, tone quality, articulation, dynamics...attention to all the details that appear in the printed score and clear demonstration of your understanding of it as everything is put together into musical phrases. From there, some context of the work (time period, performance practices) can be helpful.

Whether you make an ensemble or festival or not as you describe is largely out of your control...it depends on how many other players are auditioning that you are competitive (or not) with.


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