Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra Audition Piece
Hey. I am fourteen years old and I have been playing the violin for about eight to nine years. Right now, I am pretty proficient in pieces such as the first movement of Mendelssohn's Concerto in E Minor, Partita No. 2 by Bach (including the chaconne, which like nobody can play well btw), Chaconne in G Minor by Vitali, Mozart Concerto No. 5, and Intro to Rondo Capriccioso. First of all, am I good enough to get into the symphony, or top tier of CYSO, and secondly, which pieces should I perform at the audition? I was thinking Vitali's Chaconne and the opening of Mendelssohn in order to get into the symphony orchestra. What do you think?
The last page I&RC if you can manage it well, for your fast piece. It's going to be significantly more difficult than the rest of your proposed repertoire.
I have had two kids in CYSO, one who is age 11 and currently in Debut, and one currently 15 who left CYSO after 7th grade because he needed something more comprehensive and challenging. (He went to MIC Academy, which is something you might also want to consider if you are VERY serious.)
The opening of Mendelssohn is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to land cleanly in an audition, especially if you get nervous easily. Those octaves trip up even the best players. The problem is that they are on the first page, and you don't have much time to get your hands warmed up.
As from ~ Elisabeth Matesky Member Solti/CSO - Carrier of the Heifetz-Milstein Violin Legacy
As originally a native Chicagoan myself...
Lydia - you are right about everything with one exception -- SOME of the orchestras do assign violin 1 or 2 for each concert cycle and do not rotate. This is primarily in the younger orchestras, though it varies somewhat by conductor and year. However, no matter where you end up, you always get to reaudition for seating in both the fall (August) and winter (January), and this year it is three times since it is virtual. You can move to the other section depending on how you do. The conductors also divide violin 1 and 2 differently -- in some of the younger orchestras, all the best players are in violin 1. That's not the case in the more advanced ones for obvious reasons.
Checking the Civic's audition webpage (
To ~ Lydia Leong
Salty, childish, and arrogant.
Elisabeth Matesky, what exactly do you expect your artist representative to do when this is brought to their attention??
For ~ Christopher Cockroach, 14 yr old Violinist ~ **Time Sensitive** 11.23.20
I will note that I did not bring up the Civic. Ms. Matesky did. I merely quoted her statement, in which she brought up Civic auditions to Christopher (the OP). I am aware that the CYSO presently requires excerpts in the upper orchestras (as noted by Susan in her earlier post) but they are not usually drawn from the common list used by professional symphonies (i.e. Schumann Scherzo, Don Juan, etc.)
To ~ Lydia Leong
If you post wrong information, you can expect to be corrected and can't be too offended when you are.
With all due respect, Ms. Matesky, I provided my source links. No engagement is needed, as I am provably, objectively correct. To summarize, with quotes from the cited pages (audition info from these orchestras, not a third-party website):
Lydia, To expand on your comment. I have it from a very reliable source that Rachel Barton Pine played in the civic orchestra when she was 11. The person that told me was approx 10 to 15 years older and would take here there. Afterwards, she would have to tag along post rehearsals at the bars he visited with fellow orchestra members. So Rachel hit the bar scene at age 11!
I've heard some entertaining stories of the Civic from an earlier era. :-)
@Arnie Cohen ~
I must note, on Michelle's point about competitions, that in any given city, the same relatively small cadre of students win all the competitions, if the judges are competent (which is not always a given). Even if you run into competition winners, the cadre is small enough that it's only a tiny fraction of the violinists in any given orchestra. i.e. if you lack a competition-winning track record, don't let that discourage you from auditioning.
I would actually disagree that there are currently a lot of violin competition winners in the top ensembles of CYSO. In fact, there are very few and only two I can think of in the top ensemble. (Both are somewhat unusual cases as well, one due to age.) Most of the high school age kids winning competitions in Chicago no longer participate in CYSO. Most leave around age 13-15 because the time commitment is just too much and they need to work more on solo repertoire and chamber music.
Susan's point is an interesting one. For most serious students who go on to professional careers (or simply continue playing as amateurs), orchestral playing is where they'll spend the majority of their time. I feel like the orchestral skills that I learned in CYSO, especially, and to a lesser extent other youth ensembles, have served me well my whole life. And I thank my teachers from my teen years for also teaching me the most common audition excerpts.
That is likely true. The general feeling around my son's program is that they will have plenty of time to learn the orchestral repertoire in college and they are better off focusing on advancing their individual technique now. This doesn't mean they don't do orchestra at all -- they still have weekly chamber orchestra, just for less time. It's definitely less intense than CYSO. The top ensemble in CYSO typically has 3-5 hours rehearsal each week, with lots of music to prepare. CYSO kids typically do need to practice their music quite a bit, and that takes up limited practice hours.
I'm thinking that it's not so much (largely not at all) learning the repertoire itself, which is a lifetime endeavour, and more about learning orchestral ensemble skills -- how to produce an orchestral sound and blend, how to make an ultra-precise section sound (something which even second-tier professional ensembles may not do well), how to choose bowstrokes for good large-section articulation, how to listen across the room and compensate for acoustic delays, etc.
Lydia, that totally resonates with me.
Just play what your comfortable playing. Bach sounds good. If you play viola, consider auditioning on that instrument too.