Audition Requirements, 2017-2018

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Don’t miss your chance to be part of the thriving Department of Music Performance Program!  Auditions for all ensembles and activities in the Performance Program are held during Orientation Week and into the first days of the autumn quarter.  

For the 2017-2018 academic year, Performance Program auditions (for participation in the large performance ensembles, both choral and instrumental) will be held from: September 20 through September 27. Auditions for the Chamber Music Program, Piano Program, and Vocal Studies Program will be held during the first and second weeks of the autumn quarter, as specified below.

All auditionees should be sure to consult the “General Tips” listed here, and then study the specific requirements for the group(s) they'd like to audition for: 
Choral Ensemble AuditionsInstrumental Ensemble AuditionsJazz Ensemble AuditionsChamber Music Program AuditionsPiano Program AuditionsVocal Studies Program Auditions.

General Tips

  • Arrive early in order to be on time for your appointment.  Each director has a very large number of auditions to hear, and needs to keep on schedule.
  • Warm up thoroughly before the audition.  Practice rooms on the first floor of Goodspeed Hall (1010 E. 59th Street) and the lower level of the Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th Street) will be available for this purpose during the entire audition period.
  • You may indicate a preference for an ensemble at the time of your audition, although you will be placed in a particular group according to the directors’ evaluations of the audition.
  • Remember that the goal of these auditions is to involve you in our Department of Music Performance Program, and to foster your musical growth while you are at the University of Chicago.  There is no reason to be nervous:  come to the audition well-prepared, and demonstrate your musical strengths.

Choral Ensemble Requirements:

  • Choral Ensemble Auditions will last 7-10 minutes each.
  • Each musician will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about his or her vocal experience (available at the audition).
  • The audition itself will consist of the following:
    • Vocalization to determine voice range and to evaluate pitch accuracy and vowel purity.
    • Pitch memory exercises, plus brief sight-reading of one or two melodic phrases.
  • Experienced singers with previous vocal training are encouraged also to sing two short, contrasting excerpts of up to 24 measures each from their solo repertoire, such as an aria.

Instrumental Ensemble Requirements:

  • Instrumental Ensemble Auditions will last approximately 10 minutes each.
  • Prepare 6 to 7 minutes of music to play at the audition.  Contrasting excerpts from solo or orchestral literature are best: something fast and flashy, plus something slow and lyrical.  Select repertoire that demonstrates your technical ability and your musical skills.  Do not choose music that is too difficult for you, or that you have not prepared thoroughly.
  • Memorization of the instrumental audition excerpts is not necessary.
  • You will also be asked to sight-read passages from standard orchestral repertoire, to demonstrate facility with transposition skills (if relevant), and possibly to play a specified major or minor scale upon request.

Jazz Ensemble Requirements:

  • Jazz Ensemble Auditions will last approximately 10 minutes each.
  • Prepare any jazz standard of your choice.
  • Improvisational skills will be tested. Be prepared to play 12-bar blues changes in any key.
  • Knowledge of jazz scales and chords will also be evaluated.
  • You will be asked to sight-read at the audition.

Chamber Music Program Requirements:

  • Chamber Music Program Auditions – for string players, pianists, and other instrumentalists – will last approximately 6 minutes each.
  • Prepare approximately 4 to 5 minutes of music to play at the audition.  Contrasting excerpts from the solo, orchestral, or chamber literature are best;  include at least one fast and technical excerpt and one slow and lyrical excerpt – or one piece that incorporates both types of playing.  Select repertoire that demonstrates your technical ability and your musical skills.  Do not choose music that is too difficult for you, or that you have not prepared thoroughly.  This short audition will be used to place you in a chamber group with musicians of similar abilities, so it is to your advantage to be well prepared.
  • Memorization of the instrumental audition excerpts is not necessary.
  • You will not be asked to sight-read at the Chamber Music Program Audition.

Piano Program Requirements:

  • Auditions will last approximately 10 minutes each.
  • Prepare 6 to 8 minutes of music to play at the audition. Contrasting solo pieces are best: something fast and flashy, plus something slow and lyrical.  Select repertoire that demonstrates your technical ability and musical skill. Do not choose music that is too difficult for you, or that you have not thoroughly prepared.
  • You may be asked to sight-read, particularly for placement in an appropriate chamber music ensemble.
  • Memorization of prepared excerpts is not necessary.

Vocal Studies Program Requirements:

The purpose of the Vocal Studies Auditions is to evaluate students’ interest and ability level as a classical solo singer; other genres will also be considered. Work within the Vocal Studies Program will then be tailored for appropriate learning and performing opportunities.

  • Solo vocal auditions for the Vocal Studies Program will last 10-15 minutes each.
  • Singers should bring a list of their solo vocal repertoire, as well as any significant performance experiences, to the audition.
  • Piano accompaniment will be provided at the audition.  Be sure to bring legible scores with workable page turns.
  • Students should present a variety of contrasting solo selections, up to a maximum of four.  Excerpts, rather than complete pieces, are acceptable for the Vocal Studies auditions.