Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles Audition Information

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Auditions are held twice yearly in January and May. January auditions are for those string, woodwind brass and percussion students wishing to enter the Prelude, Academy and Youth Orchestras. To ensure the continuity of the program within each group, students are not allowed to move from one orchestra to another mid-year. The audition schedule is as follows:

IN PERSON 2021 Auditions will be held the week of Monday, August 30th through Friday, September 3, 2021 at Byrne Hall, 2417 North Tyler St., Little Rock, AR  72207

An audition application must be received at least a week in advance of auditions and an audition time reserved prior to the audition weekend. The ASOYE Audition Form is on the ASYO portion of the ASO website, under Audition/Forms. The form will automatically be forwarded to the Youth Orchestra Offices. The $20 audition fee must be sent to the ASOYE offices prior to the audition date. After the audition form is received in the ASOYE offices, you will be contacted to schedule an audition time. It is not necessary for a student to re-audition each year for entrance to the ASOYE program. An audition is required only when a student wishes to move from one level to another.

Once a student has auditioned, he or she may register for the group assigned on the registration link on the Youth Orchestra webpage.

Audition Requirements

Prelude Orchestra – for students 4th through 8th grade

An audition is required for entrance to the Prelude Orchestra. Students need to have studied their instruments for at least 2 years and demonstrate, in their audition, two sharps and two flats in first position. Experience in third position is desired but not required. Students in this group MUST be able to read music and must be familiar with the concept of, and received an introduction to, shifting. Audition must include: one major scale, 2 octaves; two prepared pieces or movements of contrasting style and tempo; and required sight-reading for each audition.

Academy Orchestra – for students 7th through 12th grade
The Academy Orchestra is the intermediate level ensemble with a full complement of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Entrance is by audition only. String players must demonstrate facility above 1st position and in keys up to 4 sharps and 4 flats. Woodwind and Brass players must be at the level to make All-Region Band and Orchestra. The audition should include: One major scale, 2-3 octaves; one melodic minor scale, 2-3 octaves; two prepared pieces or movements of contrasting style and tempo; and sight-reading.

Youth Orchestra
The Youth Orchestra consists of the most advanced string, woodwind, brass and percussion players from around the state. Entrance is by audition only and for those whose audition demonstrates familiarity with advanced techniques, in order to perform the standard orchestra repertoire. Students should prepare one major scale, 2-3 octaves; one melodic minor scale, 2-3 octaves; two prepared pieces or movements of contrasting style and tempo, unaccompanied; and sight-reading. In addition, students may have opportunities to participate in masterclasses with visiting ASO guest artists, and have opportunities to receive coaching and performance opportunities in smaller chamber ensembles. In some circumstances, students auditioning for the Woodwind and Brass Sections may be replaced in the group on a probationary basis, with the opportunity to audition later for a tenured spot in the orchestra.

All students should be in the 8th grade through high school. Selected woodwinds and brass students can be up to age 20.

Chair Auditions

Each orchestra has their own process for doing chair auditions within each section. It is up to the conductor of each orchestra to determine if, when and how he will conduct chair auditions within his group.

Youth Orchestra Chair Auditions Only

The Youth Orchestra (most advanced group) Seating Process is outlined below:

Seating within the ASYO is determined by several factors. In September, each STRING PLAYER will take a chair audition. This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate how well they are capable of preparing a few short excerpts of orchestral music. Chair audition excerpts will be made available at the annual retreat; they are excerpts from music we will be performing.

Factors that are considered in determining ALL seating (woodwinds, brass and strings) include:

  • Musical needs of the entire ensemble (what will make us sound best)
  • Physical requirements of each piece performed
  • Experience as a player
  • Consistency of performance at rehearsals and concerts
  • Equitable distribution of opportunities
  • Seniority
  • Attendance
  • Leadership skills
  • Auditions
  • Consistent level of preparedness (last but certainly not least)

Principal chairs are the 1st chair within each section. These positions will rotate throughout the year. If a wind section doesn’t rotate for a year, it is likely that members are building experience through consistency. All students should expect and be willing to sit in different seats over the course of the year. String seating generally rotates on a per concert basis, whereas wind seating may alternate on a single program. Wind part assignments generally are made for each piece of music.

Concertmaster Auditions

It is also likely that the concertmaster position will rotate during the year. A violinist must take the concertmaster audition, however, to be considered for the concertmaster position. This will occur on the same day as chair auditions, but are by sign-up. There will be additional audition excerpts. Members of the Violin 2 section may take the concertmaster audition by preparing the added concertmaster excerpts and the regular violin 2 excerpts. All students who sign up for a concertmaster audition must also take a regular chair audition the same day.

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