Audition season is here. How do you choose the right audition music to play?
Choosing the perfect audition music - for college auditions or for upcoming competitions - can be daunting. How do you select repertoire that showcases your strengths and knowledge of different styles? How can your music selection help you stand out from the crowd?
At Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company, many of our employees are seasoned competitors and have attended top music schools and conservatories. These are the audition pieces we would recommend.
Mozart’s Concerto for Flute in G Major
This is probably the most commonly asked audition piece for professional and college auditions of all levels. Written in 1778, Mozart’s first concerto for flute showcases one’s knowledge of classical style alongside technical aspects of flute playing such as sparklingly clear double tonguing, precise rhythm, and execution of scales, thirds, large leaps, and trills (the list could continue on and on….). Mozart’s Concerto in G is a work that develops with a flutist through the many stages of their career, so if you are learning it for the first time, or working on the piece for the twentieth year, a curious approach to learning this work is what helps keep it fresh! The first movement is most commonly asked for auditions, followed closely by the second movement. This work is such a standard work in the audition repertoire that if you’re not already required to play it, the Mozart Concerto in G would make a perfect audition choice.
Bach Partita in A Minor or any of the Bach Sonatas
The Bach Partita is one of the most well known works to professional flutists and teachers. This work is commonly asked for on professional auditions (particularly the Sarabande or Corrente movement) and college auditions. While the exact date of creation isn’t certain, musicologists believe it may have been written around 1723. The work, written in 4 stylistic dance movements, covers a large tessitura of the flute, especially considering the time period in which it was written. From the lowest notes on the flute, to the ending high A of the first movement, this work requires a player to achieve fluidity between lip flexibility, tonguing, and finger execution. Furthermore, the work has a lifetime of musical interpretation to explore to understand the harmonies and phrases Bach wrote. It is monumental particularly because it is written for solo flute - not flute and piano - something that was unheard of in the 1720s! The Bach sonatas are equally wonderful with their endless exploration possibilities. They are slightly less dense in material and difficulty, but still make for excellent competition and audition works.
Paul Taffanel, the father of the French Flute School, began a music commissioning project during his tenure as professor of flute at the Paris Conservatory that created a new body of flute music written by french composers. These works were commissioned as annual jury works for the students of the Paris Conservatory and were specifically designed to test a student’s control of tone, technical execution, phrasing, and vibrato. Called the “Morceaux de Concours” (translating to The Competition Pieces), many of these works include a lyrical opening section, followed by a virtuosic section, which makes them perfect for competitions and auditions. While not typically asked on professional orchestral auditions, they are standard for many college entrance auditions and wonderful pieces for competitions. The book, French Flute Music edited by Louis Moyse, includes many important favorites from the Morceaux de Concours including Faure’s Fantasie, Chaminade’s Concertino, and Taffanel’s Andante Pastoral and Scherzzetino. The works in this book are shorter in length and are perfect for competitions and college auditions because they showcase lyrical and technical aspects of playing. For the most competitive of auditions, longer, more difficult works such as Jolivet Chant de Linos, Dutilleux Sonatine, or Sancan Sonatine, while extremely demanding technically, can help set you apart in an audition, if played convincingly.
To balance out a competition or audition program of classical, baroque, and french romantic music, showcasing one’s knowledge and appreciation of today’s music can be a defining asset in an audition. Many of these works have extended techniques, use innovative flute sounds, such as jet-whistle, beat-boxing, or harmonics, or incorporate electronics (among an endless list of new musical innovations). This is also an opportunity to showcase voices of composer’s less heard from in history such as works written by women, BIPOC composers, and composers not from the euro-classical canon. Playing works such as these convey a player’s understanding of the larger cultural context they are entering into as an artist today. New works are commissioned yearly from organizations such as the National Flute Association and the Texas Flute Society, among many others. This commitment to building the flute repertoire and commissioning “today’s” composers to contribute continues the important legacy that Paul Taffanel started over 100 years ago. Newly written works range from moderately difficult, to extremely technically demanding. Shulamit Ran’s East Wind is a highly demanding work perfect for competitive auditions and competitions - it has complex rhythms and range extending well into the 4th octave - but it is an incredibly exciting work to perform and listen to. Valerie Coleman’s Danza de la Mariposa has a wonderful mix of extended techniques and beautiful melodies that are perfect for a competition work.
Wanting music more off the beaten path? Stay tuned for our upcoming blog with unique music recommendations to help you stand out at your next audition.
Now that you have your audition music picked out - check out these flute