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Topic: Conservatory Auditions  (Read 3107 times)

Offline iamazombie911

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Conservatory Auditions
on: March 09, 2018, 07:05:05 PM
Hi y'all,
I'm a freshman physics major in uni right now, but I've had a change of heart and want to audition for a conservatory next year. I missed the audition cycle this year, so I would audition next year, meaning I still have a lot of time to learn different pieces, but this is what I'm currently thinking for my audition repertoire:
Baroque:
-Bach WTC G minor Book 2 (not learned yet)
Classical Sonata:
-Haydn C major Hob 50
Substantial Romantic Work:
-Chopin Sonata No. 3
20/21st Century:
-Gaspard de la Nuit
Virtuosic Etude: (Couple choices here, choose one or two)
-Chopin Op. 10 No. 4
-Godowsky-Chopin Op. 10 No. 4 (difficult to maintain)
-Liszt Transcendental Etude No. 1 (this would be the easiest)
-Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 1 (not learned yet)
Lyrical:
-Chopin Nocturne Op. 15 no. 1

I know it's hard to say anything substantial about it without hearing recordings, but most of them wouldn't be current recordings (I'm bringing back a lot of these pieces from years ago... herehttps://youtu.be/cFGpaJ-hANE is a WIP recording of the Godowsky from a couple months ago that I posted here... and herehttps://youtu.be/E0S-cfjevk8 is mvt 1 of chopin from some time ago), so I don't think it would accurately represent my abilities. I'd still love to hear any comments, ideas you might have on repertoire selection (i.e. Maybe it's too technique heavy? Is that bad? Is it well balanced? etc.)

Also, I'd love it if anyone could share some successful audition pre-screening tapes for the top conservatories so I can get an idea for what the competition is like. My teacher reckons I have a chance at Curtis, but she isn't too familiar with Curtis admissions, so I'm somewhat doubtful...

Sorry for this mess of a post, I suppose I'm just looking for some advice...




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Offline clouseau

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #1 on: March 09, 2018, 10:00:09 PM
Hello iamazombie911,

From what I remember your playing is pretty decent. However, I don't know how well you handle the pieces you mention, and how you will handle them under the pressure of an audition. Just some general advice from me and wish you success along the way:

1. Try to avoid pieces that have been overplayed. Less known pieces by well known composers will make a good impression.

2. Better play something that you can handle well and feel at home, than something which is technically on your limits. You can hardly impress the professors by playing something crazy fast, they have heard that way too many times. Play something that you have _totally_ mastered technically, so that you can focus in delivering an interesting interpretation. This is what they value most.

3. You have to perform all your pieces on different pianos and with audience, before you go to the audition.

4. It is a brave decision you are taking. But consider it very well and try to talk with students/professors and people associated with studies in music, to have a really clear picture about what you are aiming for.
"What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune." - Rameau

Offline fftransform

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 06:08:49 AM
The Godowsky and Liszt Preludio are definitely inappropriate; you probably shouldn't bring the Chopin Sonata (which they will probably only ask to see the 4th mov from) and a Chopin Etude.  The 39-1 has a less 'characteristic' Rachmaninov sound than, say, 33-9, 39-2 or 39-5 (or 39-6, if you dare), and that is what you would want to show.  Otherwise I would recommend doing one of the more substantial Liszt Etudes; you could possibly do Debussy #11 if you were so inclined.  The other stuff doesn't really matter much, in terms of repertoire choice; they just want to hear the right sound.  But bringing in a major work of Beethoven or Schubert is better than Haydn or Mozart for sure.

Gaspard is probably a suicide wish.

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #3 on: March 10, 2018, 06:51:35 AM
Hi y'all,
I'm a freshman physics major in uni right now, but I've had a change of heart and want to audition for a conservatory next year. I missed the audition cycle this year, so I would audition next year, meaning I still have a lot of time to learn different pieces, but this is what I'm currently thinking for my audition repertoire:
Baroque:
-Bach WTC G minor Book 2 (not learned yet)
Classical Sonata:
-Haydn C major Hob 50
Substantial Romantic Work:
-Chopin Sonata No. 3
20/21st Century:
-Gaspard de la Nuit
Virtuosic Etude: (Couple choices here, choose one or two)
-Chopin Op. 10 No. 4
-Godowsky-Chopin Op. 10 No. 4 (difficult to maintain)
-Liszt Transcendental Etude No. 1 (this would be the easiest)
-Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 1 (not learned yet)
Lyrical:
-Chopin Nocturne Op. 15 no. 1

I know it's hard to say anything substantial about it without hearing recordings, but most of them wouldn't be current recordings (I'm bringing back a lot of these pieces from years ago... herehttps://youtu.be/cFGpaJ-hANE is a WIP recording of the Godowsky from a couple months ago that I posted here... and herehttps://youtu.be/E0S-cfjevk8 is mvt 1 of chopin from some time ago), so I don't think it would accurately represent my abilities. I'd still love to hear any comments, ideas you might have on repertoire selection (i.e. Maybe it's too technique heavy? Is that bad? Is it well balanced? etc.)

Also, I'd love it if anyone could share some successful audition pre-screening tapes for the top conservatories so I can get an idea for what the competition is like. My teacher reckons I have a chance at Curtis, but she isn't too familiar with Curtis admissions, so I'm somewhat doubtful...

Sorry for this mess of a post, I suppose I'm just looking for some advice...






Some of this stuff is good to pull out, some not so good.

The Bach seems like a good choice, though I must warn you that fast Bach pieces are usually the hardest to pull off in any kind of performance set. Likewise, the Haydn is tricky, but appropriate.

I don't know if three Chopin pieces is really good to do, though. I would highly suggest doing something by Brahms (like both the Rhapsodies Op. 79 or the Op. 119 set), Schumann (perhaps the Fantasiestucke or Krieslerina), Liszt (not a Sonata, but maybe a lesser-played Hungarian Rhapsody like No. 5 or 13), or maybe one of Chopin's mature, less-played works, like the Polonaise-Fantasie Op. 61. They will like it if you bring something that almost no one plays. Also consider perhaps doing something by Schubert or late Beethoven, like the Wanderer Fantasy or Beethoven's Op. 109. Just a thought.

For your etudes, I think you really should play something from the Rachmaninoff Op. 39. Personally I would pick number 5, but that's just because I love that piece so incredibly much! If you want to go with the Liszt, you should definitely play a more substantial, less-played etude, like Vision or Arpeggio.

But really, coming from someone who has been here almost exactly: if you play something that they all know by heart, any and all mistakes, even slight ones, will stick out in their heads. Rather, if you play something like, say, the Ginastra Sonata, they won't know every single note of it without even needing to look at the score. Also, I just have a feeling that if you play ANYTHING by Scriabin, that might make a bigger impression than if you play the Gaspard de la Nuit.

These are just my thoughts. I didn't audition to any top conservatories because none of my audition repertoire was even close to being ready by the deadline for application, so I didn't even bother. Instead I auditioned at a university with some well-known faculty, and am planning to pursue a bachelors, then get my masters at a top conservatory. I recommend keeping your options open in that way. If you take that route, you might even be able to pull a double major in music and physics, if you're insane enough.

These are just my thoughts.

Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #4 on: March 10, 2018, 04:35:15 PM
I would agree with the comment saying to pick something you're comfortable with and not on your limits. This isn't the time for risky pieces, and whatever you play should be both technically polished and musically committed and convincing. The Liszt TE1 imo is too short (and not particularly difficult) and might be seen as trying to shortcut requirements. Better the sixth (Vision) which is one of the easier ones but has a lot more to it. *If* you have good octaves you might want to consider Alkan's Allegro Barbaro (op 35/5).

Gaspard is asking for trouble, unless you have some special affinity for it.

Your choice of classical sonata should be defined by which composer's writing you are most at home with.
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Offline fftransform

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #5 on: March 10, 2018, 08:19:07 PM
Do not play Liszt TE6, do not play Ginastera, do not play *** Alkan...  Not even sure what "Arpeggio" etude means for Liszt, unless it's the Paganini #4 (also too short, not a typical Liszt sound, inappropriate).  La Leggierezza or Un Sospiro are both appropriate, though, if that's what is meant.  Though La Leggierezza has become a popular one among 'prodigies' (i.e. skilled kids playing pieces too difficult for them) so it has some bad cache right now.


Only play pieces that the judges will be 100% familiar with, and that you will (usually) nail.  That is what they want.  Don't listen to pianostreet.  I love Xenakis, but this isn't the time to get creative with your rep.


If you play Gaspard at a college audition, you are overqualified.  If you play it at a conservatory audition, it is something like 'setting a challenge' to the jury.  You are saying that you have picked this tippy-top difficult piece because you are going to play it perfectly.  If you don't, you will go down like a rock.  Also, you had better hope there aren't two people on the jury who disagree on what 'perfect' is for it.

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #6 on: March 10, 2018, 08:35:21 PM
Do not play Liszt TE6, do not play Ginastera, do not play *** Alkan...  Not even sure what "Arpeggio" etude means for Liszt, unless it's the Paganini #4 (also too short, not a typical Liszt sound, inappropriate).  La Leggierezza or Un Sospiro are both appropriate, though, if that's what is meant.  Though La Leggierezza has become a popular one among 'prodigies' (i.e. skilled kids playing pieces too difficult for them) so it has some bad cache right now.


Only play pieces that the judges will be 100% familiar with, and that you will (usually) nail.  That is what they want.  Don't listen to pianostreet.  I love Xenakis, but this isn't the time to get creative with your rep.


If you play Gaspard at a college audition, you are overqualified.  If you play it at a conservatory audition, it is something like 'setting a challenge' to the jury.  You are saying that you have picked this tippy-top difficult piece because you are going to play it perfectly.  If you don't, you will go down like a rock.  Also, you had better hope there aren't two people on the jury who disagree on what 'perfect' is for it.

Not sure if you're correct. I've done a lot of research on this, including talking to college professors who actually do the auditions. One of them said that it is better to play more out-of-the-way pieces. Another highly recommended against ... Liszt sonatas, Chopin Ballades, and Bach Preludes and Fugues (the latter because, apparently, literally everyone plays one at an audition, and panels are often sick of them). Just my own conclusions.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #7 on: March 10, 2018, 09:19:40 PM
1.  Just do what your teacher says

2.  NOBODY has a chance at Curtis I don't care what anyone says.  I think last year they took zero people. I doubt you'd get in unless you're already a superstar, play better than Kissin, or is like best friends with one of the faculty there.

3.  It's a good idea to email ONE of the faculty of the school and ask for a lesson or just let them know that you'd like to study with them before you show up for your audition.  It's technically against the rules for faculty to meet up with any of the people auditioning beforehand but people do it anyways.  You wanna get your foot in the door.  Cause if they're deciding between you and someone that plays just a little better, they'll pick you cause they know you already.  And just email ONE professor cause if you do like two or three they'll get mad and you'll be denied before you even show up lol

Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline rachmaninoff_forever

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #8 on: March 10, 2018, 09:42:19 PM
Additionally all this trying to get into the top big name conservatory thing is nonsense.  And I'm not just saying it because I have never attended a top conservatory.

The three things you need to look for in a school is teacher, program, and more importantly...  MONEY. Cause who cares if you get a degree from Juilliard if you're like infinite dollars in debt.  That's a lot of money to pay just for someone to say 'wow you really went to Juilliard?' When they ask you where you go to school for the first time.  I'm not trying to bash the program cause it's a good program but it's WAY overpriced if you don't get a GOOD deal.  I'm just picking on Juilliard cause it's the first school that popped in my mind.  I got into Manhattan School of music for the masters program there but their tuition was like 60k a year and they only offered me like 400 dollars a semester so I was like nope I'm not going there.

Besides, I've beaten a kid in a competition who was a masters student at Juilliard and I only had an undergraduate performance degree at UIUC.  Big name schools can only take you so far.

Live large, die large.  Leave a giant coffin.

Offline iamazombie911

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Re: Conservatory Auditions
Reply #9 on: March 10, 2018, 11:37:43 PM
Thank you everyone for all of your advice, it means a lot to me. I was finally able to get in contact with a teacher who has a lot of experience sending students to these big name schools, so I will see what he thinks and update this post. I am considering scholarship money as a top priority, which is partially why I am so interested in Curtis. I have a lot of time to learn new repertoire (and I like to think that I learn quickly), so I'm going try out potential replacement pieces that you all suggested. I think I still have a lot of research to do, whether it be about my piece selections or potential schools. Thank you again for your help.
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