"Novel" Audition Repertoire Suggestions

Added on by Greg Anderson.

Hi Greg,
I am writing a novel in which a character is auditioning for Juilliard. She is a pianist. I have all the information on requirements, but I'm looking for specifics on what audition day is like...ie how is the panel, etc. I also need suggestions for the pieces she might play, particularly categories 3 and 5. If anyone can help me out, it would be much appreciated.
Thanks, Laura Covault

Dear Laura,

My perception of my Juilliard audition is likely very different from what actually happened. In reality, the jury is filled with nice, intelligent, and compassionate faculty members. (I'm serious, they really are.) From the piano bench, they appeared larger-than-life... terrifying... crotchety. In reality, the process is as fair as it could be -- there are multiple rounds (a tape round, preliminary round, final round, and a brief interview), and several faculty members are on every panel. It is incredibly time consuming and stressful for the faculty to sort through the hundreds of applicants, but they do a thorough job because they are genuinely searching for the most talented of the bunch. They do it with humility, however, because they've all been through it themselves; they are fully aware of the hopes and fears most applicants harbor. From my perspective, of course, things didn't feel so fair. "I didn't get to play the development of the first movement -- that was my best part!" "They asked me to start in the middle of the piece; I wasn't expecting that!" "I had to wait outside the jury room for 20 minutes; my fingers got cold!" "The interviewer asked me trick questions!" The call-back process draws the day out pretty long. It's terrifying enough to walk into a large room -- a piano on one side and a lineup of highly respected individuals on the other -- and prove yourself in a mere 10-15 minutes. But then you must wait several hours for the call-back list to be posted (terrifying! -- it's out of your hands at that point!), and if you're lucky (?!@#$%), you get to do it again later that evening.

I've written about my audition repertoire elsewhere on this site. I'll repost it here:
 "As for your audition repertoire, play whatever it is you want to play (in other words, play pieces that reflect you as a musician), and when your audition rolls around, play well. That's all that matters. My undergrad audition program consisted of the following pieces: Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor from WTC I, Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, Mendelssohn's Variations sérieuses, Liszt's Transcendental Etude No. 4 -- "Mazeppa", and Prokofiev's Third Piano Sonata. I'm not sure whether this was the greatest audition program, but I loved performing all of the pieces and I played them well."

I hope that helps you!

 - Greg (Jan. 10, 2009)