Filtering by Category: Programming

"Big" Pieces for Audition Repertoire

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
My teacher told me I need to play something "big" and she said either Liszt or Rachmaninoff. I've played the Rach Elegie but have never played Liszt. She said a Liszt etude maybe? I like the Rachmaninoff Etude in d and think it would be easier than a Liszt etude. What would be a good liszt or rachmaninoff piece. I'll be using this as part of my audition/senior recital program so it I agree it needs to be good!
Josh in MS

Dear Josh,

Oooooo. I really dislike programming for judges. (Of course, I understand your dilemma.) I can make recommendations, but remember that I've never heard you play and I don't have a sense of your strengths and weaknesses.

There are a couple Rachmaninoff etudes in D minor, but I assume you are thinking of the calmer one. If you like it, then you should play it! Otherwise, many of the Liszt etudes aren't as hard as they sound (and many of the Rachmaninoff etudes are harder than they sound!). The second Transcendental Etude (in A minor) is pretty straightforward, but it packs a punch (perhaps your best bet). "Wilde Jagd" is a little tougher but still manageable. "Waldesrauschen" and "Gnomenreigen" are both good choices. "Un Sospiro" and the fifth of the Paganini etudes aren't especially "big," but they are beautiful pieces of moderate difficulty. Outside of the etudes - Liszt's transcription ofDanse macabre by Saint-Saens is very impressive and not too difficult. It may not be "serious" enough for an audition. There are a couple movements from the Annees de pelerinage that could be appropriate - the Sonettos, Au Bord d'une Source and, Les Jeux d'Eaux a la Villa d'Este.

As for Rachmaninoff, have you considered some of the Preludes from Op. 23? Or the Moments musicaux?

- Greg 

College Audition Repertoire

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
I'm researching colleges with outstanding music programs and music conservatories for my Gifted Education program, and part of it is comparing all the different requirements of the school as far as auditions for piano go. I was wondering, what did you play for your auditions?
 - Caitie

Dear Caitie,

Juilliard and Yale's audition requirements are listed on their websites. Some of them are pretty complicated, so I'd rather not take the time to list them here.

I've auditioned for college degrees at three points in my life (for my Bachelor's degree, my Master's degree, and my Doctorate degree), and my audition programs were different in all occasions. Developing balanced programs that meet all the requirements can be downright difficult, but whatever you do, play what you love, and play it well!

Good luck with your project!

- Greg

Juilliard Connections

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Hi Greg,
I read your response about your Juilliard audition and saw your repertoire at the end. Wow - my repertoire is EXACTLY the same!! I am a senior in high school auditioning, and I was wondering what connections (if any?) you had to the faculty before your audition - masterclasses, lessons, etc. Thank you!!!!
 - Mariam

Hi Mariam,

Wow -- what a coincidence that our audition repertoire was exactly the same!
I didn't have any connections when I applied to Juilliard. The closest thing to a connection: I attended Bowdoin Summer Music Festival during my sophomore year of high school -- while I was there, I watched Veda Kaplinsky teach a masterclass. I can definitely attest that Juilliard admits students based on ability, not connections.

 - Greg (Oct. 24, 2009)

Some Programming Suggestions

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
I am a college student who has recently won a prelim to my state competition for the miss america program. I have been advised to change my piece from a "dark" comtemporary prelude...??? Do you have suggestions for a dramatic and impressive piece from which I can easily arrange a 90 second segment? I am a classically trained pianist with over 13 years of lessons and will be working with my teacher on the new selection. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated--I am considering Lecuona's "Malaguena." However, I am not set on it or on that type of piece!
 - C.T.

Dear C.T.,

Ummmmmmm. It's sounds like you need a very short but not horribly difficult encore piece. Off the top of my head: Liszt's First Transcendental Etude, Flight of the Bumblebee, Prokofiev's March from "The Love for Three Oranges."

Good luck with the pageant!

- Greg

More Programming Suggestions

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Dear Greg,
My teacher told me I need to play something "big" and she said either Liszt or Rachmaninoff. I've played the Rach Elegie but have never played Liszt. She said a Liszt etude maybe? I like the Rachmaninoff Etude in d and think it would be easier than a Liszt etude. What would be a good liszt or rachmaninoff piece. I'll be using this as part of my audition/senior recital program so it I agree it needs to be good!
Josh in MS

Dear Josh,

Oooooo. I really dislike programming for judges. (Of course, I understand your dilemma.) I can make recommendations, but remember that I've never heard you play and I don't have a sense of your strengths and weaknesses.

There are a couple Rachmaninoff etudes in D minor, but I assume you are thinking of the calmer one. If you like it, then you should play it! Otherwise, many of the Liszt etudes aren't as hard as they sound (and many of the Rachmaninoff etudes are harder than they sound!). The second Transcendental Etude (in A minor) is pretty straightforward, but it packs a punch (perhaps your best bet). "Wilde Jagd" is a little tougher but still manageable. "Waldesrauschen" and "Gnomenreigen" are both good choices. "Un Sospiro" and the fifth of the Paganini etudes aren't especially "big," but they are beautiful pieces of moderate difficulty. Outside of the etudes - Liszt's transcription of Danse macabre by Saint-Saens is very impressive and not too difficult. It may not be "serious" enough for an audition. There are a couple movements from the Annees de pelerinage that could be appropriate - the Sonettos, Au Bord d'une Source and, Les Jeux d'Eaux a la Villa d'Este.

As for Rachmaninoff, have you considered some of the Preludes from Op. 23? Or the Moments musicaux?

- Greg

Advice for Solo Programming

Added on by Greg Anderson.
Hello Greg,
I am a Senior Music Education student and was wondering if you had any ideas for a senior recital program design. I play the Alto Saxophone but I thought that maybe you'll have some different aspects to bring to it.
Thanks,
Jordan

Dear Jordan,

Gosh, I can't say I've given much thought to Alto Saxophone programs. The first programming idea that comes to mind is a group of pieces based on song, capitalizing on the lyrical nature of your instrument. You could create your own transcriptions (it's really easy - just play the vocal line). ...perhaps a Schubert song or two, Faure (Apres un reve), Rachmaninoff, even Bach. Then you could include a couple more recent songs - a jazz standard, and a sophisticated pop ballade. A friend of mine played transcriptions of Sigur Ros and Radiohead on his senior recital. Is it sacrilegious to transcribe classical songs for sax? I don't really think so. I think such a program it would highlight just how much today's pop music has in common with 18th and 19th century music.

I wouldn't recommend filling the whole program with song transcriptions - too much of a good thing! You could balance them with some virtuoso showpieces, or a meaty contemporary piece.

You should also toy with finding ways to add your friends to the recital. It's really difficult to program a solo recital that will hold an audience's attention from beginning to end. Continually changing the performing forces is an easy way to prevent monotony. It will also help bring in more audience members! A good rule of thumb is to increasingly add more people to the stage and end with the most, although sometimes the reverse can be surprisingly effective.

I wish you and your audience a wonderfully enjoyable program and performance!

-Greg