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Bach preludes as audition material

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by rebassca92, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. rebassca92


    Dec 19, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    What's the general opinion on using preludes in auditions? I've had teachers tell me to avoid preludes and only play dance movements, and I've also heard preludes are considered more challenging than most dance movements and offer a greater range of expression/musicality. What do y'all think?
  2. mcnaire2004


    Jan 17, 2006
    I think Bach preludes are a fantastic idea. Though, I have seen specific request for dance movements and I don't recall seeing a request for a prelude.

    I usually learn the whole suite when I work on one. Maybe you can do that and have options?
  3. Playing Bach in an audition, voluntarily, can have both positives and negatives. While a Prelude can show off the expression of the individual, you also run the risk of putting off your audience as well. There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to Bach. Some feel that there is only one way to play Bach, so an expressive interpretation with nice tempo/articulation/phrasing changes can be looked upon poorly. Of course there are other opinions, like my own, where an expressive interpretation is totally accepted! I feel that far too often, players play Bach safely.

    I attended a masterclass with Leonid Finkelshteyn, principal bass of the North Carolina Symphony, who said that he would never play Bach voluntarily on an audition because of the dilemma I listed above. He said that when asked to play Bach at an orchestra audition, he usually played a dance movement, often the Gigue from the 3rd Suite, in a pretty straight forward way. He would play it differently in a solo recital though.
  4. DC Bass

    DC Bass

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    Note- I was typing this as Munky was, but he submitted his post first.

    I've heard some people counsel that one might consider avoiding the Bach Suites for audition material. The reason given is that they can be polarizing- they are often interpreted differently and thus subject to prejudice. If a judge is predisposed to an interpretation that differs from your presentation, it could reflect negatively.

    YMMV of course- if you play a piece well and are proud of your interpretation it should come through in your performance- one would hope that a judge or selecting panel would take that into consideration.

    What you are auditioning for might well be a factor- are you auditioning for a professional orchestra, a school, a spot in the section of a community orchestra (etc)? Make sure your selection is appropriate to the position and meets the criteria set by the selecting panel.

    My personal advice would be to follow your heart and the advice of your teacher.

  5. dtosky


    Jan 4, 2010
    Preludes are generally too long for big orchestra auditions.
  6. csambass


    Jul 22, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    don't do it Rebassca
  7. This is fantastic. Same with your post, DC.

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