Asking for advice for a concerto competition

Edited: September 17, 2019, 6:27 PM · Hello,

I am a junior high school student looking for advice. I’ve been thinking about entering my youth orchestra’s concerto competition. This year’s competition will take place mid November. I picked Khachaturian 1st mvt as my piece and I would say it’s 75% ~80% ready as of now.

First of all, I feel I am bit behind schedule in my progress for readying my piece by mid November. Plus, I unfortunately have to travel for one week to participate an event a mere two weeks prior to the competition day and I can’t secure practice time while I am gone. Therefore, I will only have one week to get back into form after I come back.

As a result, I am leaning toward not entering this year.
I need to discuss it with my violin teacher to make sure but I would like to hear other violinists’ and students’ advice as well.

Should I proceed with signing up for the competition just for the sake of the experience? Or should I wait until next year? And how big of an impact can missing one week of practice make?

Any input would be much appreciated!

Replies (12)

Edited: September 17, 2019, 6:11 PM · I say do it anyways.
Two weeks is plenty to get back in shape after such a short break. Actually, you might even play it better after you come back.
September 17, 2019, 8:54 PM · If one week tanks your preparation, you're not sufficiently prepared, regardless.

If you're well prepared, one week shouldn't make any difference. Try to listen to recordings with the score while you're gone.

September 18, 2019, 12:36 AM · You might want to check with the conductor of the youth orchestra, or with whoever is running the competition. When I played Khachaturian with the local university orchestra, the cost of renting the score was $500. That's an expensive piece to program.
Edited: September 18, 2019, 2:00 PM · Thank you for your advice.
-Cotton I decided to go for it after talking to my violin teacher. I will try not to worry about winning or losing but do my best to gain positive experience!
-Lydia I will bring my music and good recordings to listen while I am away.
-Mary I checked with the office for orchestral score availability and fortunately they have it.
Edited: September 18, 2019, 2:56 PM · If you have checked with the office and they say they have it, you have done your due diligence. However, I find it very, VERY hard to believe that a youth orchestra would have parts and score on hand for a work that is rarely performed by a youth orchestra and still under copyright everywhere in the world (so very expensive whether rented or purchased). I wonder what it is exactly that they do have - piano score? Kabalevsky (sometimes confused with Khachaturian)? Honest to goodness Khachaturian?

This is not a piece that I would expect many smaller professional orchestras to own, let alone a youth orchestra.

Edited to add that a cursory google search yields parts available only through rental. Now I am very very curious indeed to know how it is your youth orchestra has the Khachaturian, or what it is that they actually have. What they may have meant by their answer is that they are willing to rent it if you win, which is perfectly fine.

Best wishes to you for a good performance in the competition.

September 18, 2019, 3:23 PM · Mary Ellen Goree, the youth orchestra my son used to play in (major US city) has performed Khachaturian at least twice, so it isn't entirely that unusual. The local state college closest to us also did it this year. I think perhaps it is being performed more commonly these days.
September 18, 2019, 4:22 PM · My mom's community orchestra did Khachaturian and I don't remember her having a problem getting the score and parts?

Edited: September 18, 2019, 7:12 PM · Clarification. It was my parent who contacted the office and their answer was it is available through rental as Mary was saying. And they are willing to help with the cost. Sorry about the confusion! (What my mother meant was ‘don’t worry about it’ when she said they have it)

@Mary Ellen Goree Thank you for your warm wishes. I will do my best!

Edited: September 18, 2019, 4:48 PM · The good news is that most of these rental houses (Boosey, Schirmer, EAM, etc) have floating rental rates that reflect Professional levels (and includes numerous rates depending on the budget range of the orchestra concerned), Community, College, and Youth Orchestras. So what one might pay for SFSymphony won't be the same as a smaller regional orchestra, a college group, or a youth orchestra. I have handled a lot of music rental orders over 20 years.
September 18, 2019, 5:26 PM · Those floating rental rates might explain a lot. I don't think I've ever seen the Khachaturian concerto programmed by a professional orchestra in any city I've lived in, but it's appeared on college orchestra and youth orchestra programs near me a bunch of times.
September 18, 2019, 8:09 PM · Mary Ellen, my youth symphony (Chicago Youth) performed it in the flute version, and we received xerox copies. I'm not sure if they rented it or they had previously made copies.

(The Khachaturian was a staple of the local violin competition scene when I was growing up in Chicago, popular in the "junior" divisions of under-16s.)

Edited: September 18, 2019, 9:23 PM · We're all just dancing around the plain fact that lots of school and community orchestras have troves of pirated music in their files.

If it was my kid who won a violin competition playing a concerto like that, I'd be overjoyed to pay for the rental of the score myself. I suspect that's what's happening here. I think if a school is going to have a competition like that, they should either bite the bullet if the winner needs an expensive orchestral rental, or they should publish a list of pieces that you have to pick from, which they either have or can afford to rent.

I'm glad you decided to go for it, Holly. You'll get useful feedback. And who knows?

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