Tuesday, September 12, 2006

First Chair

Well, after all the fretting, practicing, anxiety and anticipation, the audtion finally happened yesterday evening. I was the 2nd of two violists to go in "the room" and by then (the four violinists had already gone in, trying for concertmaster and associated concermaster positions) I was stressed out. I worked on my best "calm" thinking and felt confident in my preparation.

Then when I was called in, and started to play, my heart raced like crazy! I suppose it was a true testament to the practicing I had done in that I was able to maintain an even tempo and fairly decent tone quality for the Bach (Allemende from Cello Suite #3). And once I was into the orchestral excerpts, my heart rate started coming down. I had forgotten what true stage fright felt like! But again, preparation saved me.

About 15 minutes after I played, they announced the results and I was given the principal position! So now begins the process of providing bowings and other direction to the viola section. And it appears we'll have a great section this year with something like 10 or perhaps 12 violas! Should be a fun season with lots of great music, such as the Bruch concerto with Lenoard Felberg as the soloist, Beethoven's 7th Symphony, Mahler's 1st Symphony, and plenty of other great material. If you're in the Albuquerque area, come and see the concerts!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Preparing for the Audition

The Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra has openings for concertmaster (first chair, first violin), associate concertmaster (2nd chair, first violin) and principal viola. I've been preparing for the audition, which will take place before the weekly rehearsal on Monday, September 11, and I've chosen to go for the principal viola spot. First of all, I'm primarily a violist anyway, although I spent the 2nd half of the last APO season in the 2nd violin section. But perhaps equally important is that I probably have a chance to land the principal viola spot wheras I wouldn't have nearly the likelyhood of landing one of the violin spots.

Needless to say, any audition requires serious preparation. I'm not a procrastinator and I also don't like to do anything like this even remotely unprepared. Thus, I've spent considerable time practicing the parts and carefully working out the technical challenges. The material for the audition includes a solo viola piece, and I've chosen the Allemande from Bach's unaccompanied cello suite #3. Then there are two excerpts from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, including the melody from the 2nd movement, and the first page or so of the Scherzo. Not overly technically challenging, but nevertheless, these are well-known passages and must be perfect or nearly so.

Then there are three passages from Mahler's 1st Symphony, including something from the first movement, then two passages from the 4th movement. These present more in the way of technical challenges, but still aren't too awfully scary. Mainly for these, I'm concerned about keeping a good tone while playing loudly, such as in the parts from the 4th movement. Certainly, working on these parts reminds me of what great music the Mahler 1st Symphony is! And of course, Bach and Beethoven, too.

Wish me luck!