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So, I've got an audition for a post on Saturday, and it suddenly occurred to me that it's been a very long time since I auditioned for anything.

 

The brief is to choose two contrasting pieces, and I was planning on a Bach prelude, to contrast with which I was thinking of a lush romantic elegy - any thoughts on this? My supposition had been that candidates would generally choose the most technically advanced pieces they could play, and that it would perhaps be striking to hear a simpler piece, none the less offering a substantial contrast to the Bach ...

 

Would very much appreciate advice - particularly if you have been in the position of auditioning candidates.

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Do you know how long you will have on the instrument to prepare?

 

Something contrapuntal, or at least Baroque, and something showing registration and interpretation skills seems like a good idea. It depends what the job is, so knowing that you should take something which shows you will be able to cope with the requirements of the position.

 

Good luck

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Indeed, much depends on instrument, venue and allowed time.

 

Out of the blue: how about Durufle's Sicilienne?

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if the audition is for a church job I should have thought that their priority might more usefully have been to find out whether you can play hymns (very few people can - it's a difficult art which few people ever master) and whether you can "fill in" if the collection extends beyond the hymn or the censing at the offertory goes on longer than expected. Can you create an appropriate atmosphere on the organ during services? Can you accompany Byrd Second Service or Wood's O Thou the Central Orb?

 

Very few members of the congregation will ever sit and listen to you playing a Bach Trio Sonata or a piece by Durufle but they will listen to you playing for services. Perhaps the people who have arranged this audition have got their priorities wrong!

 

Malcolm

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if the audition is for a church job I should have thought that their priority might more usefully have been to find out whether you can play hymns (very few people can - it's a difficult art which few people ever master) and whether you can "fill in" if the collection extends beyond the hymn or the censing at the offertory goes on longer than expected. Can you create an appropriate atmosphere on the organ during services? Can you accompany Byrd Second Service or Wood's O Thou the Central Orb?

 

Well said, Sir!

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I recently played a Bach prelude (no fugue - too long) and a lyrical Vierne movement for a short audition for a parish church ADoM job. I wanted to show contrasting styles and techniques. Neither piece particularly suited the instrument, which is an early 20th century Harrison, but I certainly didn't intend to play Parry and Whitlock every week if I got the job*, and I figured that if being able to make it sound roughly convincing in less well suited repertoire would be a point in my favour. In any case, I also had to accompany an Anglican choral setting and some other similar music, so I wanted to provide a contrast with that.

 

I've never auditioned someone on the organ, but I would guess that your pieces should be chosen to demonstrate as many diverse skills as possible, both technical and interpretative. Bach seems to be de rigeur for this reason and others, so I would think that any other works should contrast stylistically and demonstrate any skills not shown in the Bach (colourful registrational changes, legato playing etc.).

 

(*I got the job.)

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My friend Theo Saunders played a Bach Trio-Sonata in his (successful) audition at Armagh Cathedral. The panel remarked on this and Theo pointed out that he thought they wanted to know if he was a skilled organist.

 

They always used to say if you could play the trio-sonatas, you could play anything....

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So, I've got an audition for a post on Saturday, and it suddenly occurred to me that it's been a very long time since I auditioned for anything.

 

The brief is to choose two contrasting pieces, and I was planning on a Bach prelude, to contrast with which I was thinking of a lush romantic elegy - any thoughts on this? My supposition had been that candidates would generally choose the most technically advanced pieces they could play, and that it would perhaps be striking to hear a simpler piece, none the less offering a substantial contrast to the Bach ...

 

Would very much appreciate advice - particularly if you have been in the position of auditioning candidates.

 

========================

 

 

Any of the Bach Trio Sonnatas or Trio-style Preludes would convince anyone of technical and overall musical ability.

 

Only an absolute musician can play Vierne's "Berceuse" properly, to the extent that it will move people deeply.

 

MM

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========================

 

 

Any of the Bach Trio Sonatas or Trio-style Preludes would convince anyone of technical and overall musical ability.

 

Only an absolute musician can play Vierne's "Berceuse" properly, to the extent that it will move people deeply.

 

MM

 

The other thing about trios is that they are easily registered - and given the limits of most audition processes, that is an important time-saving factor! At one audition, I was given just 25 minutes to prepare one piece of Bach, one other contrasting piece, a psalm and a choral accompaniment to be done with the choir present at a later stage. This preparation time was over in a heartbeat; I finished it having not even had a chance to open my copy of the Bach, let alone try out possible stops for it, so I had nothing for it but to choose one I knew inside out and that could be registered "blindly."

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if the audition is for a church job I should have thought that their priority might more usefully have been to find out whether you can play hymns (very few people can - it's a difficult art which few people ever master) and whether you can "fill in" if the collection extends beyond the hymn or the censing at the offertory goes on longer than expected. Can you create an appropriate atmosphere on the organ during services? Can you accompany Byrd Second Service or Wood's O Thou the Central Orb?

 

Very few members of the congregation will ever sit and listen to you playing a Bach Trio Sonata or a piece by Durufle but they will listen to you playing for services. Perhaps the people who have arranged this audition have got their priorities wrong!

 

Malcolm

 

Absolutely.

 

The last time I auditioned someone for a post I said that the audition would consist of 'those things which, as a church organist you do every day' They arrived with volumes of Bach, Messiaen (heard about my musical tastes!) and so on and were surprised when I gave them a hymn tune to play. I suggested that they played the tune through several times to completely familiarise themselves with it. I then suggested several scenarios.

 

1) I needed the hymn transposed - semi-tone - tone - minor third!

2) I needed a 'Chorale Prelude' to preceed the hymn (even in small-town churches, German organists do it all the time!)

3) The hymn had finished but a procession was still taking place - continue with a free improvisation - until I tell you to stop!

 

I then asked them to accompany an anthem - on the organ in situ - making sure that they could follow a beat and had the musicianship to accompany! Following a beat is something organists tend not to do until they get their first job. I started my life as a 'cellist, following conductors of all shapes and sizes! but I have known a good many very fine organists who can play all the notes but who can't follow a beat!

 

I automatically assumed that, if they had a Diploma of some sort (depending on the diploma, of course!) that they had the ability to play notes by themselves - and they took their Bach - Messiaen off home with them without opening it!

 

I was talking about this very thing the other day to the Titulaire of a very well known church here in Birmingham. Both of us agreed that our Universities and Music Colleges are turning out some very fine players but that the art of service accompaniment and all those things that go along with it - transposition - keyboard harmony - improvisation - hymn playing - are not a part of the organist's curriculum as an undergraduate. It's a shame - because it should be!

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