Audition Piece Advice

December 22, 2021, 4:09 PM · Honored People of Knowledge,

I'm looking for advice on audition pieces. The job I'm auditioning for is playing classical violin and fiddle in the musical Texas. I play classical viola and Texas-style fiddle.

The audition requires you to make a video with a "classical submission of 1-2 minutes" and a 'fiddling demo if available." The fiddling demo is not a problem, as I have quite a few tunes ready. The classical portion is more difficult, because I haven't taken classical violin lessons in quite a few years. The pieces I've played most recently that represent my skill level are all on viola.

I don't think it would be difficult to transfer one of my viola pieces over to violin, but I'm wondering if it would be more efficient to do that or to just learn a whole new piece. For skill-level reference I'm currently working on the Hummel Fantasy for viola. I've also recently polished a viola transcription for the first movement of the Mozart Sonata in E Minor.

I was considering learning the original violin version of the Mozart sonata, but I'm unsure if that's an acceptable audition piece for the kind of thing I'm doing.

I don't have a lot of time to prepare this (it is due some time in January, the dates haven't been announced). Any help or advice is most appreciated!

TL;DR: Violin audition piece ideas for a violist going over to the light side. Possibly Mozart sonata in e minor, 1st mvmt?

Replies (13)

Edited: December 23, 2021, 2:28 AM · Hmmm, the audition requirement is that you demonstrate facility on the instrument. Mozart e minor sonata would not be my first choice for that, unless it is the piece you sound best on. Maybe Czardas if you can learn it in time?

I think this is the audition in question:
https://www.texas-show.com/auditions

Edited: December 23, 2021, 6:58 AM · Orange Blossom Special
Gershwin arr. Heifetz
Edited: December 23, 2021, 12:35 PM · I like Mary Ellen's suggestion of Czardas. It demonstrates a lot of technique without extreme difficulties - except, perhaps, playing the "artificial" harmonics in the middle section in tune, because if they are not in tune you got nothing - except squeaks. Playing it "straight" as written is good enough, however seeing the ways Nigel Kennedy has played around with it might be fun - or at least idea stimulating - this is only one of those way (the Czardas actually starts at 44 seconds:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26yzhNtKLcE

Personally, I prefer it straight!

I recall a dinner my senior HS class held in the HS cafeteria for the parents and I was the wandering violinist playing Monte's Czardas and unsure of hitting those harmonics I just played the high notes way up there. It might be a good trick to play them up there first time and then do the harmonics as a repeat (actually there is a bit of a repeat in the music as written).

It is the only piece of violin music I seem to have memorized over the years even though I never tried to.

December 23, 2021, 1:57 PM · In my experience rarely played repertoire is not a good choice for auditions (and probably not for competitions either). I have had two flops in my life due to this error (string trio by Joseph Eybler in a chamber music competition for amateurs and Prokoffiev* string quartet no. 1 in an audition for a "music club"). I'd recommend well known music, Mozart e-minor would fit that bill. Hummel certainly does not (except maybe for a viola job). I don't quite share Mary Ellen's concerns about the Mozart. If the web site she supplied is indeed what you are aiming at I think it will be fine. They ask only for 1 - 2 minutes which would be about the first part of the first movement of the sonata; even without repetitions the whole movement would exceed that time. If they were very choosy they would ask for more than that. If you play it well you should be ok I think.

* I never know how to spell Russian names in English, sorry, I am too lazy to look it up.

Edited: December 24, 2021, 12:31 PM · I'll be a little contrary. Sonatas are usually not done for auditions because the piano part is too important. The audition is for a music theater show, standard violin + fiddle style. You could use the fiddle piece as the vehicle to demonstrate your technique and velocity. There is plenty of difficult, flashy stuff from Texas swing, bluegrass, pieces by Mark O'Connor, J. Scott Skinner. The classical piece could be a slow movement from a concerto, Tchaikovsky or Bruch, which would demonstrate your tone, intonation, vibrato, and musicianship. For me, much earlier in life, I found that Classical Viola and non-classical fiddle to be a good combination. There can be a closer feel to the bowing.
December 25, 2021, 1:09 PM · You could try an easier passage from Viotti 22. This piece is quite attractive and has some impressive parts. I feel that the Mozart Sonata will demonstrate musicality quite well, but it won't show whatever technical faculties you may or may not have on the violin. Therefore, the Viotti 22 will have a lot of passages that are impressive but not immensely difficult. I hate how this concerto has now gained a student concerto status; I would put it up there with Bruch 1, minus 3rd movement, in difficulty.
December 25, 2021, 7:02 PM · Assuming that the fiddle tune is going to be something fast which shows off your technique, I'd pick a violin work that shows off a nice tone that'll blend nicely into a pit-orchestra sound (possibly when amplified, given that this thing is outdoors?)

Czardas, Salut d'Amour, or the like will work for that.

December 28, 2021, 9:37 PM · Thank you all for your input!

@Mary Ellen that is indeed the audition.

I talked it over with my fiddle teacher (she's also a classical violinist) and she thinks the Czardas is a good choice. I'm excited as I think it's a really cool piece!

I appreciate the suggestions! Now off to practice...

December 28, 2021, 9:43 PM · Have you done any of the Bach Cello Suites? They transport very well to violin, and have a range of styles you can highlight.
December 28, 2021, 11:18 PM · I thought of Czardas before I even scrolled down to the responses! People who are less knowledgeable about music in general seem to think Czardas some kind of magnificent display of virtuosity. And it's not all that far from fiddling.
Edited: December 29, 2021, 4:51 AM · I'm a bit puzzled by the remit - Texas the Musical? It sounds like there will be much slapping of cows' backsides. What classical music can they possibily require? Bach suites? Surely there's something more appropriate. That was what went through my mind before suggesting Gershwin/Heifetz. Aaron Copland would have been a better suggestion, but his name refused to come to me when I first posted. Or what about a Charles Ives violin sonata? Ditto for Czardas vs OBS.
December 29, 2021, 9:38 AM · Csardas should certainly cover the bases-- tone, phrasing, facility, personality. I don't know that musical, but it may well have some 'Broadway'-ish stuff as well as pure/fake country music.
December 29, 2021, 3:21 PM · I was curious so glanced at YouTube. The number they have up there sounds like orchestral Americana in the Copland/Grofe/John Williams vein.

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