Monday, January 21, 2008

Prokofiev perpetuates negative stereotypes!

While at Cincinnati I auditioned for 45 minutes in front of the single oboe professor and his video camera (with a mini lesson, unrecorded, to follow), at Northwestern I auditioned for 15 minutes in front of the three oboe professors and their notepads. This is really rather representative of the schools as a whole, I think.

But first my audition. They had me play the exposition of Mozart Quartet Mvt. 1, all of Poulenc Sonata Mvt. 1, Roman Carnival excerpt on English horn, Tombeau excerpt, and sight-reading from Barrett. I was a little nervous after practicing the night before, because it was quite cold and dry, and my reeds were protesting the fact. However, the next day, though even colder (it was stuck in the single digits all day) according to the weather channel had about 65% humidity, and my reeds revived. In fact, they revived to a state better than the one they began in, dark and full but vibrant not stuffy. This audition, I was very happy with all of my playing- including EH, which went quite well this time after I changed excerpts- except for my sight-reading. I suppose my nerves got the better of me, but I was quite disappointed and surprised at how much trouble I had with a fairly easy sight-reading passage. Usually (and by usually I mean always except for that audition) I am a very good sight-reader, both in true sight-reading and in orchestral run-throughs. I suppose that if I could have picked one part of my audition to mess up it would have been sight-reading, but still.

I was happy with the Mozart, which was not too awkward on the tongued runs, and which was vibrant, bouncy, and dynamic. The Poulenc also went well; I thought I was very lyrical and connected, I had a wide dynamic range, and aside from the low C I didn't have any problems with the high or low notes coming out attractively. My downward runs were a little bit mushy, though. Roman Carnival was perhaps on the slow side, but I had a good tone and good phrasing, and I think I played it very well. Tombeau was quite good, though not perfect. It was one of those times when I was almost watching myself play the excerpt rather than actually playing it myself; I didn't rush, but I did play it a little faster than I was intending, and I was afraid that I was suddenly going to spiral into a trainwreck. However, that didn't happen. Instead all of my notes come out, the tonguing breezed by, my grace notes were quick and appropriate, and I didn't slur the B and C# together in the last three measures. It was still a little scary, though.
I'm really very happy with how I played- I think it was pretty close to the best of my ability- but even if all of the applicants are on an even level I have about a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of being accepted. Still, nothing I can do now. Besides, after being so disappointed about my CCM audition, it was nice to be satisfied with my performance in this one, no matter what the outcome. It's also an assurance that I won't just screw up every audition I take.

And now on to my sweeping generalizations about the school. :-) CCM to me feels very new, almost too much so. The buildings feel almost cold because they're so new and shiny, although the practice building, which is not new, is better. The people, on the other hand, are very warm and inviting. Despite this, I'm not sure it has the right feel for me, though frankly that's not super high up on my list of considerations for where to attend grad school. Northwestern, on the other hand, felt a colder people-wise as an immediate reaction, though admittedly it was much less so on Saturday when I actually had a chance to talk to a few people and when I met the oboe teachers. I think that in actuality it felt less cold and more...professional. I also loved the campus and the feel of the buildings, which were old and broken in. Gothic architecture mixed with weird "modern" building styles, and it just felt right. That seems like a fairly lame way to put it, but what can I say, it's true. I like places that feel, well, old and distinguished, yet broken in and comfortable, and that's a pretty accurate description of how Northwestern felt to me.

In additional oboe news, I get to play Peter and the Wolf on Saturday in a fund-raising concert for the high school here. The school orchestra plays with hired winds and percussion in the big theater downtown, it's all very cool and I'm sure the kids have a blast. So my project this week is learning Peter and the Wolf, and making sure I have an appropriate reed.

Also, while I tried to buy an Innoledy gouger (and in fact got as far as actually paying through Paypal), it turns out that there is a 4 month waiting list. Now, I should, I admit, have suspected this, but there was no mention of it anywhere on the website, which did in fact let me purchase the gouger. It seems like letting people know upfront would be much easier than having to charge and then refund each purchase.

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