How do I audition for the Princeton University Orchestra?
Simple. When you arrive on campus, come over to the Woolworth Music Building. Look for the Orchestra bulletin board, next to Room 102 on the first floor of the classroom part of the building. There'll be a signup list (ten minute slots), and some stuff to read. Audition materials are:
What kind of time commitment does the Orchestra entail?
The orchestra averages two or three full rehearsals a week (Sundays 7-8:30, Mondays and Wednesdays 4:40-6:30), with occasional sectional rehearsals outside the regular schedule, usually on Saturday afternoon. Concert weeks (4 weeks out of the year) two rehearsals are added (usually Monday and Thursday). Each concert is performed twice, and there are no rehearsals the week after concerts. Of course, there is individual practice time, as well.
So the rehearsal time commitment is considerably less than that of an athletic team. How competitive is membership the Orchestra?
You have to demonstrate that you will be able to handle, to a reasonable degree, the repertory that the Orchestra is playing. If the repertory is beyond a student's technical level, then it's really unfair to ask her/him to try to play music that might be frustrating to both that individual and the group, as well. The Orchestra's repertory has always included some quite challenging works, such as Mahler symphonies, Stravinsky ballets, etc.
The number of wind, brass and percussion openings are determined by the Orchestra's repertory - larger pieces require more players, though not necessarily for each concert. The usual string complement is 28-32 violins, 8-10 each of violas and cellos, and (ideally) 6-8 basses.
If I don't get in, are there other playing opportunities?
The Sinfonia is a chamber orchestra that has a reduced performance schedule. It is conducted by Ruth Ochs, a professional conductor long associated with the Music Department.
For wind, brass, and percussion players, the Princeton University Wind Ensemble is yet another option. Like the Orchestra, the Wind Ensemble rehearses twice a week and performs in Richardson Auditorium. Wind Ensemble rehearsals do not conflict with Orchestra rehearsals so that it is possible for musicians to join both groups. For more information, see the Wind Ensemble bulletin board on the main floor of the Woolworth Music Center or visit the Wind Ensemble's website.
When is the next chance to audition?
There will be another set of open auditions in January, if space is available in the Orchestra.
How do seatings work in the Orchestra?
A new seating is done for each concert. Seatings are rotated, up to a point, i.e., not all may be ready, in the conductor's judgment, to play the more difficult parts, but every effort is made to distribute the parts as equitably as possible, within what will best serve the music and the Orchestra as a whole.
Every member has the opportunity to play an informal audition for the conductor before each new seating goes up. So if you don't like your seat/part, either because you blew your audition, or didn't feel you got a fair hearing, you've got three more shots through the year to show your stuff- or progress- outside of rehearsal. This is NOT a "challenge" system; it's simply an opportunity to be re-heard. You can also use this opportunity to get more experience auditioning; if auditions terrify you, sometimes just doing more of them can desensitize the situation for you.