Saturday, August 15, 2009

Audition Tale

So the audition is over! This was the local "Big Symphony" 2nd oboe/EH chair. I was in the 2nd group of hopefuls - apparently there were 16 people and they heard us 6 at a time or something like that. The first group started at 9:30 am, and I was told to be there at 10 for position drawing.

I was first in the 2nd group to play. Good spot, who wants to wait around getting more and more nervous? They gave us the order of excerpts and we could use our own music. It was Mozart exposition, Brahms Vln, La Scala, Don Juan fast and slow, and New World on EH.

We each got a practice room (which was very nice). The moment I stepped into the practice room my heart started pounding like crazy. Before that I was pretty calm. So I'm trying to deep breathe and get my heart rate at some more normal tempo so I can even try to warm up. I played a bit but I almost passed out - my logical brain was thinking how ridiculous it all was, but when your body reacts there isn't much you can do about it!

So I was wishing for beta blockers, wondering how much time I had when there was a knock at the door. The proctor told me they were listening to the last person in the first group and then they were taking a break. Thank God. So I had some time to pull myself together. Eventually I think my heart and adrenyline just ran out - glad I had enough time for that to happen.

I was able to run through things, a bit shaky but after a few minutes things were going ok. I thought I would just take a tiny bit off the tip of my reed and I realized I had LEFT my reed knife on the table at home. HOW stupid was that? Then the proctor came back and it was time.

We went to the stage door and the stage manager (who I know) wished me luck and asked if I had any questions. I was really glad there was a water cooler right there and I asked if I could bring a cup of water with me. The hall is beautiful and I was really excited to finally get a chance to play in there. They had set it up a table, where I put the water and EH. There was an instrument stand provided but I figured I might knock it over (klutz that I am). There was even a chair but I had been playing standing so I just moved that out of the way.

The panel was out in the orchestra seats - big screen covering any sign of them. I didn't hear a peep from them, so different from our hilarious attempt to screen the Little Orchestra auditions (where you could see our feet under the table). Time to start. I tried taking deep breaths, but after a couple I figured it wasn't going to get any better, so I started. Opening was pretty good, not the best I've ever done, but I got all the notes in there. The Mozart went ok, OMG the hall was AMAZING. I really did sound great in there. But I wasn't super even on the fast passages, although I don't think I actually messed up, and a couple of the low Gs didn't speak (stupid inattention).

After I finished there was no noise. I just got the Brahms up and played. It actually went great, but the evil 8th note blips at the end the A didn't speak! But I was happy with it except for that. Still nothing from the panel, on the La Scala. I got through at a reasonable tempo, but it was kind of uneven. I have to double tongue it cuz my single tongue is the slowest known to man, and I think when I am nervous it exacerbates the unevenness. Oh well. I was super delighted I nailed the low C at the end and got through it with no actual note issues, but then I heard K say "thank you".

So no Strauss (probably my best of the set) or EH for me. I wasn't really surprised but I wish I could have played those. But the job of the panel is to weed us out. I did hang around for almost TWO HOURS for the official word on who would go on, I didn't realize that not playing all the stuff meant I could leave right then. But it was great to visit with some of the other oboists, after we'd played everyone was in a more chatty mood.

Four people from my group went on, and two from the earlier group. I heard they chose three people from the 2nd round to go on to a 3rd round, and they offered the job to someone. I guess we'll see if they take it within a week. It really seems amazing that people would fly in, pay for hotels food and airfare for a 16K job. But what do I know - some of the auditionees were from NYC, Boston, Florida, Chicago - only 4 were "locals" (Pacific NW). All the people in the 3rd round were from far off places. The level of talent was really remarkable.

So overall, I am totally relieved! And I think it was a great experience. In between terror I loved the way I sounded on the fabulous stage, and I certainly can hear a big difference in my playing. I am glad I wasn't too invested in the whole process, I was mainly doing it because it was right here. I am thinking I may audition for the sub list (apparently that has to be a separate thing) in September. Right now I am enjoying an oboe-free day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Back. from. another. vacation... Was lovely at the beach but WHY do auditions always seem to fall at these inconvenient times??! My family was great about giving me space and time to practice, we ended up in the big suite with a huge walk-in closet (which was my practice room). Made about 2 hours each day - although I didn't do the playing in front of people thing. So much harder to ask non-music people, I just felt like I was imposing enough by leaving every morning and squacking away.

In the afternoons I really tried to not think about anything but vacation stuff - we went to the beach, one day beautiful and sunny, but rain is far more typical on the WA coast. I kind of love that misty rain and clouds on the beach, but the sunny day was great too.

Today I don't feel terrific but after sleeping in I did get up and played a couple hours. I will be so glad when this is all over. I do know my playing is improved, looking forward to the opera (end of Sept) and orch season.

I am in the second group to play, 10:00. That is ok with me! I think there are two groups in the first round, then they will choose who goes to the 2nd round right then. I believe the whole thing will be over by lunch, but I could be wrong. J is staying home so I don't have to get a sitter (thank god) always a nightmare to ask someone to come for an indefinite period of time.

I was actually kind of impressed with myself - I played on all my own reeds today (as opposed to the mysterious Gs reeds) and they were pretty good. I'd love to play on my own, just because. And G is auditioning too, so it seems kind of like cheating to play on his reeds. But I will if his are better that morning!

Mozart seems to be shaping up nicely - wish I had played it this well when I did it with the symphony. Sometimes I still get tangled up in my fingers, or I am not concentrating and I miss an attack - so frustrating as I KNOW I can play it with no mistakes. But playing it with no mistakes in front of judges is another thing.

Brahms is pretty good, Scala is surprisingly stable although I think my tonguing is a bit on the jerky side. But I'm willing to accept that if I get through it with no mistakes! Don Wan (hehe) is my fav, I really think I can nail the beginning (have I just jinxed it?) and I am doing pretty good on all the low Ds in the tune. Low notes are not my "forte", funny that I'm taking a 2nd oboe audition! All the 2nd stuff is starting low notes without the squawk, so hard for me but I'm much better than a month ago. And I figure I'll never get to the EH round, but those sound ok too. So big day is Friday, I'll post all about it at some point this weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

practice, practice, practice

Back from the Tetons! Fun fun fun. BUT, since the audition is less than 2 weeks away I practiced 2 hours every day before any fun stuff. I'm so impressed with myself (sort of). I know I should be doing more, but really I just want to get on the sub list! And not be awful.

So, one good way to practice is ask your (former) friends to listen to your audition! They can even pretend to be judges and critique. It's really great because the easy stuff you think is nailed suddenly isn't - nothing like a little adrenaline. While my friends were enjoying their first coffee of the day, I forced them to be my "panel" and they picked from the list of 12 excerpts for me to play. I was in the middle of the Mozart oboe concerto (exposition only) when one of the neighbor heard my siren call and stopped by. I had never met this guy (guitarist) but we were all in our pjs! Funny, at least I was completely covered. AND, I didn't stop or lose my place when he came in (without knocking - it's kind of a casual place).

Tomorrow I'm playing for my college teacher, who is actually the reason they are having the auditions (she's retiring from the symphony). Hopefully she will have great insight and I will be able to keep myself focused.

2 days til our next vacation (will they ever stop?) this time to the coast. Hopefully I can find a good place to play where I don't disturb everyone too much as this time there will be 15 people in the house! Should be interesting, but I have to do it because there are only two days left when we get back.