Cleveland Orchestra Audition Workshop at UM Frost School of Music

March 23, 2010 — Coral Gables--Music professor Tim Conner welcomed Cleveland Orchestra musicians Jeffrey Rathbun (oboe), Shachar Israel (trumpet), and Saeran St. Christopher (flute) to hear eight students at the University of Miami Frost School of Music practice audition excerpts. The Frost students played several orchestral excerpts each and the adjudicating musicians gave comments, criticisms, and helpful hints on auditioning including information about intonation, color, phrasing, emphasis, versatility, rhythm, and more.

Frost School of Music students Sam Spinola (French Horn), Leslie Scarpino (Trumpet), Jim Drayton (Oboe), Brett Cornwall (Clarinet), Rachel Branzer (Clarinet), Jose Leon (Bass Trombone) and Eduardo Martinez (Flute) participated in the mock orchestra auditions held at the Victor Clarke Recital Hall in the L. Austin Weeks Technology and Recording Center on March 23, 2010.

Rachel Branzer (clarinet) performed first, followed by Sam Spinola (French Horn). As a general comment for low brass, the adjudicators advised, “Don’t think of ‘big sound’ as ‘low.’ Think ‘focus’ and “clean’ instead. Sing, take your time, and play out, like a solo.”

"I really liked your vibrato,” Shachar Israel commented to Leslie Scarpino (trumpet), and then suggested to the entire audience, “Think of vibrato as an ornament, not part of your sound. Control vibrato at different dynamic levels and also on long tones (for example, slow--speed up--slow).”

Jim Drayton (oboe) teed-up next, followed by Brett Cornwall (clarinet). Adjudicators praised both, giving general advice as follow up: “Play with more dynamic range overall… ‘up the excitement’ on the second phrases…be more dramatic…hear the orchestra, and…record yourself.”

In terms of overall stage presence and musicianship, the Cleveland Orchestra musicians advised the students to exaggerate more, and suggested visualizing an actor’s stage make-up; “It feels crazy up close, but it makes sense to the audience.”

Jose Leon (bass trombone) was praised for his great sound. ‘The excerpts chosen gave you NO room to maneuver. Play even louder, put yourself out there.” Saeran St. Christopher quoted the great trombonist Joseph Alessi, “Practice your highest, lowest, softest and loudest every day.”

Frost flautist Eduardo Martinez closed the session with a beautiful performance. To wrap up, the musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra shared some tips from their own experiences in landing auditions and performing for their audiences: “Make sure every detail is in place. Perform with personality. Have something to say, and have total command of your instrument.” They all agreed that their most successful auditions were when the 'went for it' instead of playing it safe.

Sage words of advice from three incredible professional musicians who are at the pinnacle of their careers.

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As part of The Cleveland Orchestra Residency at the Frost School of Music, musicians from The Cleveland Orchestra were on campus throughout the week of March 22, 2010, conducting audition workshops and master classes. They also premiered new chamber works by Frost composition students at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) with musicians from the New World Symphony.


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