Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

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HKM
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Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby HKM » 15 Jun 2009 13:58

Hi there,

I found this forum while Googling for some ideas for an audition piece (for a soprano) - hope you lovely people can help! It's not urgent, as the audition (for the Northern Sinfonia chorus) won't be until September, but I want to give myself the best possible chance.

I have spent many years singing in various choirs, including my old church choir (not v high standard, my mum and I sang alto purely because we could read music!), school choir (visits to sing in cathedrals, lots of church music in general) and most recently my university choral society, which was excellent, conducted by the organist of Durham cathedral.

I had to audition for the uni choral society, but it only involved a little sight singing and some scales. This time, I have been asked to prepare a piece to sing, which is a whole new experience for me! I really have no idea what they will be expecting, except that the lady I've been in touch with said it should be a solo rather than a chorus part. The type of thing I am used to singing is various church music (settings of the canticles, anthems by Parry, Howells, Matthias etc) and works such as Bach St Matthew Passion, Brahms German Requiem, Elgar The Apostles - but always just the chorus parts, I never had occasion to learn the solos. Plus we always used to hire soloists for our concerts, so singing them seems to be out of the reach of an amateur like me!

The only thing I can think of so far is to sing a solo part from an anthem; the one that keeps popping into my head is the soprano solo from Parry's Hear My Words, which we did a lot at school and I know very well (our music teacher used to get us to sing the solos together in rehearsals). But will that be the sort of thing they want to hear? Parry is probably deeply uncool...

It will also have to be something I can download, borrow or buy easily, as all the music I've sung in my life either belonged to school or came from the library, so I don't have any of my own.

Any ideas will be much appreciated!

vaarky
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby vaarky » 15 Jun 2009 15:49

Sympathies from another ensemble chorister who has to grit teeth and sing solo works for auditions every so often.

You can see what solo works CPDL has available at
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Cate ... ocal_music

For an audition, you'll probably want something with an accompaniment, since they often have a piano and it's harder to stay on pitch without a piano.

There's a famous book that voice students go through called Twenty-Four Italian Arias and Ariettas, which is a collection of not-too-difficult vocal pieces with piano accompaniment. The book is available for purchase in different transpositions depending on the range of the student. Most of the original pieces are in the public domain, though I'm not sure if all of them are on CPDL.

Some such pieces include:
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Tre_ ... _Pergolesi)
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Caro ... e_Giordani)
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Se_t ... _Parisotti)

If these are not in a good range for you, you can look around at the other solo works, post more information about your range and perhaps someone here can suggest something that fits. Hope this helps, and good luck with your audition.

bobnotts
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby bobnotts » 15 Jun 2009 17:01

You said that you sing (or sang?) alto just because you and your mother were the only singers able to pitch the notes. Does that mean you're really a soprano? If so, and given your choral background, you may wish to consider Mendelssohn's Hear my prayer. The first section of this would be suitable for an audition (up to bar 34 in the edition on ChoralWiki), though possibly a little too short.

From one choral singers to another, the best advice I can give is this: the biggest thing to think about when making the transition to being a soloist is realising that you're the only one singing (or your line is more important than others' lines). It sounds obvious, but choral singers in solo roles often don't give enough to make themselves heard and are afraid of overpowering the accompaniment or whatever. Also, you're the boss. Rather than you following the conductor, the accompaniment will follow you. It's no wonder that soloists are often big headed! :)

Anyway, hope that helps

Rob
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carlos
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby carlos » 15 Jun 2009 20:48

Hi, these are the suggestions that come to my mind:

1. Depending on your musical level it may be an obvious thing, but breathing in a solo is considerably different from breathing while singing a choral part, where you can do it more freely while others are singing. In a solo you must have a clear understanding of the musical phrasings in order to avoid breathing in the midst of a phrase. In anthems the phrases are quite obvious, but not so if you're going to sing an Italian aria, for instance.

2. Try as much as possible to sing it by heart, as it will give you more confidence, and also because if you can look the audience in the eyes while singing the solo it usually gives them a better impression.

Good luck!

DrewE
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby DrewE » 16 Jun 2009 02:24

It might be worthwhile to enquire of your contact for some examples of typical pieces that others have used for their auditions—not so much to pick one of them, but rather to get an idea of what they're expecting (if anything) stylistically and so forth. It would probably not be helpful to show up with a broadway showtune while most everybody else selects an operatic aria (or vice-versa!)

I had an opportunity a couple of days ago to attend a recital by a very talented young lady I know. One piece she sang that I was quite taken with was "Au Bord de L'Eau" by Gabriel Fauré, Op. 8, No. 1. It didn't strike me as being all that difficult in a technical sense, but it did call for rather careful (but not understated) interpretation and phrasing. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an edition of this work here in the CPDL. I guess it's probably rather plain for an audition piece, too.

bobnotts
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby bobnotts » 16 Jun 2009 08:40

P.S. You may find some more advice and scores at a website dedicated to solo vocal music: Art Song Central.
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HKM
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby HKM » 17 Jun 2009 11:08

Hey, thanks for all the replies!

Yes, I am a soprano really - that's what I'll be auditioning for (chorus that is, not to actually be a soloist! :shock: )

The word 'aria' strikes fear into me, a bit- I don't know any opera, never even listened to any! Ditto show tunes - well obviously I've heard some but they're not really my cup of tea. All the groups I've been in so far have been related to the Church of England in some way so my past experience is pretty much restricted to religious music. Will look up some of the pieces people have mentioned.

I may also email them again and ask what people have done before - I've already asked quite a few questions so I don't want to pester the poor woman, but I do want to get it right.

CHGiffen
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby CHGiffen » 17 Jun 2009 12:17

In my experience with auditions for a chorus, the real reason for having one sing a solo is to gauge the quality of the voice and basic singing ability - not the "superstar" potential - and, more often than not, the director is looking for a voice that will fit in with the rest of the choir. Singing an opera aria or a Handelian oratorio aria is therefore completely unnecessary. A solo from an anthem is quite alright - but just as likely (unless the choir is a professional level choir, which I gather is not the case) even a hymn or other song could be sung. Probably, they are looking for your control over vibrato (less vibrato or the ability to control it is better), pitch control, vocal quality, range (which will probably be ascertained by your singing scales or other range excercises of the warm-up variety). During the audition, you may be asked to re-sing part of your solo differently, but that doesn't mean you sang it wrong! Rather, this would be a chance to see how you take to vocal "instruction".

All in all, I'd say relax, sing something you are comfortable with. You've already had enough choral experience in the past. You'll do just fine!

Chuck
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Early Choral Music? Zephyrus (I sang 12 seasons 1992-2004 with this group).

vaarky
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby vaarky » 18 Jun 2009 05:34

That's an excellent point. Often what you choose doesn't matter so long as it's something you feel comfortable with that shows off the color and quality of your voice a bit. So the main thing is that it fit comfortably within your range, doesn't have long phrasings that are beyond your breath control, etc.

In my experience, choir directors are usually very understanding and sympathetic about the plight of an ensemble singer who is tasked with finding an audition piece, and aren't inclined to be critical about the piece you select until you hit the pseudo-professional or professional groups that pay the singers.

fdoell
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby fdoell » 19 Jun 2009 07:35

Hello,

I also agree with those writers before me that advice relaxation.

In a gospel choir I sang some years ago, audition began with a piece of music that ideally was the favourite song of the person audited. The reason was to have that person really comfortable and familiar with that song as well as that interpretation comes kind of naturally by having a lot of experience with the piece. Only in a second step other abilitites were checked such as repeating some tone sequences and rhythmic clapping sequences often heard in gospel songs or singing a part of the last rehearsal (auditions were made there after participating in 2 to 4 rehearsals) together with some typical body movement.

The goal of that audition was
- to verify that the person is likely able to follow the typical level of music, singing and presentation of that choir both in rehearsals and performances
- to check if the person has got some vocal and personal talent for short or even longer solos
- to identify deficits in the range of necessary features for singing in that gospel choir (they agree that a deficit in one range could be catched up before participation in a first performance but deficits in more than one range should be subject to remedy otherwise before coming back to the choir for another audition)

This seems to be quite high level of audition but that choir has the necessity to earn money with perfomances (mostly weddings and concerts) to finance their professional musicians such as conductor, piano player etc. so that performance level and fees both are on a semi-professional level and choir beginners are invited to firstly learn gospel singing in other choirs that work on a more amateurish level.

Good luck for your personal piece selection, maybe you rehearse some pieces and then ask a musically solo experienced friend whitch of them seems to perform best with you and therefore should be your offer to the auditors.

ebykm
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby ebykm » 22 Jun 2009 15:11

It amazes me that no one suggested Handel's "Angels ever bright and fair" from Theodora.

This shows one's capabilities and a lovely one to sing and listen.
http://www.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Theodora%2C_HWV_68_(George_Frideric_Handel)

bradcapo2
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby bradcapo2 » 31 Jul 2009 02:46

Thanks so much for sharing the post.


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wilspoor
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Re: Northern Sinfonia Chorus audition

Postby wilspoor » 25 Aug 2009 14:40

I'm also going to audition and asked someone from the choir- but she couldn't come up with anything either!


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