Auditions

Auditions

Participation in Department of Music ensembles and activities is, in most cases, by audition.  There are just two ensembles that do not require prior musical experience in the idiom: the South Asian Music Ensemble and the Middle East Music Ensemble. In all cases, preference for membership in the Department of Music Performance ensembles is given to qualified students at the University of Chicago; faculty, staff, and interested community members are welcome to audition and to participate in the ensembles as space permits.

Auditioning for Ensemble Membership

The main auditions for membership in performance ensembles and programs for the 2019-20 season will be held at the end of September.  Additional auditions will also take place during the first two weeks of the school year.

Returning musicians are required to re-audition each season; there are no permanent seats within the ensembles.  Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in a variety of ensemble and program opportunities during the course of their four years on campus, in order to maximize their musical experience and growth.

How do I sign up for auditions?

To audition for participation in the Performance Program, interested musicians may register in person in the 8th floor lobby of the Logan Center for the Arts beginning Monday, September 23 at 11:00 a.m.  Audition sign-ups continue through Monday, September 30.

The sign-up table will be staffed the following days and times:

Weekdays (M-F), 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Weekends (Sat/Sun), 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Audition Requirements

All auditionees should be sure to consult the “General Tips” listed here, and then study the specific requirements for the group(s) for which they will audition.

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 Auditions

  • 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 also encouraged to sing two short, contrasting excerpts of up to 24 measures each from their solo repertoire, such as an aria.

Instrumental Ensemble Auditions

  • 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 Auditions

  • 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 Auditions

  • 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 Auditions

  • 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 Auditions

  • 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.