Need Help Selecting a New Piece

September 27, 2020, 10:54 AM · Hi there! I am a junior in high school and I am currently looking for a new piece. I am sending in a portfolio for colleges and I do not plan to attend a conservatory. That being said, I do want to continue violin in university. I have played Bruch 1, Mozart 4, Sarasate Introduction and Tarantella and Romanza Andaluza, Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Cappricioso (which I am working on again for my portfolio). I have also played movements from Bach partitas. What do you recommend? I am not necessarily looking for a concerto. My teacher had said La Campanella by Paganini but I am a little worried that it is out of my reach.

Replies (4)

September 27, 2020, 12:40 PM · If I recall correctly, you'd posted an I&RC video previously (just the last page, I think) and it was quite unstable -- and moreover, demonstrated what looked like a relatively unstable technique.

Someone -- I think it was Mary Ellen Goree -- noted that I&RC was too hard for you, and I agree with that sentiment.

La Campanella would definitely be too difficult, by a very long shot.

I would focus on ensuring that whatever is in your portfolio is played really well, and worry less about its raw difficulty level.

September 27, 2020, 12:59 PM · I agree with Lydia, quality over quantity (in terms of difficulty level). Whoever sees your portfolio is going to appreciate things you play that are within your reach and played very well rather than some really difficult pieces that are played poorly. You say you’ve played Bruch, so I’d say the next logical piece (or at least concerto) would be either Wieniawski 2 or Saint Saens 3. Or even Lalo if you haven’t done that yet.
September 27, 2020, 3:00 PM · If you are not ambitious to be a professional I recommend to look for chamber music and for partners. The best music you can play on a violin is chamber music.
Edited: September 27, 2020, 7:05 PM · Every college (non-conservatory) has different requirements about what they want. The competition for scholarships for non-music-majors is very stiff. I personally think that the idea that your Bruch is going to move the needle on the likelihood of admission to Harvard is utter futility. Basically they are looking for people who "should" (might?) have tried for a conservatory spot, but they wised up and chose engineering or pre-medicine instead. There are a few of those where I teach, but I don't think any of them got music scholarships. Scholarships really depend on how desperate the school is to populate its orchestra.

The usual video-audition combination is a concerto movement and then a contrasting piece. In your case, and considering your playing of the IRC back in January (link below), Bruch 1 could be a good choice. Then you could choose a movement of solo Bach to complement it.

College orchestra auditions are often separate and take place when you get there, in the first week of classes, and might include excerpts of the pieces they're intending to play or even sight-reading. In my daughter's case they had excerpts (a couple of them were fairly hard but not Don Juan level) and then they asked for scales. Last year they had a different director who asked her to bring a concerto exposition.

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