Monday, January 30, 2012

Application Season

 Greetings readers,

In the past week I have submitted applications for:

Why is it that applications all seem to be due at the same time? 

While I do question why I continue to do things like this to myself, I have to admit, it's very satisfying to know that I pulled it off. While I was able to recycle some components from some of the applications, such as singing the same aria, I did have to learn a new test piece for each of them since they all had different requirements. 

The NYC audition was, by far, my most impulsive applications. I just received news of application details on Monday (I had applied back in October but hadn't heard any information, thus, I promptly forgot about it). I remember sitting at my laptop and wondering if I should submit an application. I decided that in the time I was taking to make the decision, I could be learning the test piece. Is it bad that all I can remember now is that it was in German because I cram-learned the test piece that evening? To make the recording I dragged my keyboard into my room and set-up a grassroots recording studio. Ah, the beauty of having my own USB microphone--- I can just record everything myself. I tried singing my aria a capella in my run-through but I was thoroughly disgusted with myself when I realized how far I stayed from the tonality of the piece by the end.  Since piano accompaniment was not required, I took out my iPhone, opened my Naxos library app, and found a recording of the aria I was auditioning with to playback to myself using my headphones. This was my version of choral trouble-shooting. Thankfully, the auditory feedback from the accompanying recording was enough to keep me in tune. Thus, my NYC application was recorded and submitted within the same evening. Success!

I had been prepping the ECCC application over the holiday break. The "Webern" test piece for this application was the most tonally challenging I had to prepare. Feel free to take a look at this link where you can download the pdf. As well, this application required two written recommendation letters. Anybody who has ever needed reference letters knows that it can be quite a hassle. I asked for references during the holiday season (when people aren't really working) because that's when I heard of the ECCC applications. I was extremely lucky that the ECCC applications were extended for a week because I was cutting it close with my reference letters. However, everything came through in the end and I submitted it in good time. Success!

Like a true artist who has mastered the art of procrastination, I left my Virtual Choir entry to the last minute. It definitely was not my first priority because I was busy coordinating my other applications. I did listen to the "Water Night" piece before the holiday (when the Virtual Choir was announced) so I wasn't sight-reading it when I did the recording yesterday. In comparison to the last Virtual Choir, this one was way more chorister-friendly. No more tedious Youtube uploading and label tagging, lining up beeps and plugging in headphones in a synchronized fashion--- all the video recording was done off of Whitacre's website. I also noticed that this time around there were many choral supports to help learn the piece. You could listen to people singing your individual part, somebody recorded a synth track of every individual line in the piece, and during the recording itself there was a playback of the song recording so you could even hear your part within the context of the choir. There really was no excuse for somebody not to record an entry. During the last Virtual Choir, I submitted four tracks, but since I was dedicating my attention to other applications this season, I decided that one video submission would suffice. I always enjoy watching Whitacre's conducting track because other than the fact that he looks like an archetypal Harlequin romance figure, he always has some interesting conducting gestures. I recognized one from the previous virtual choir, which I call "the finger chew" since he circulates his fingers around his mouth in order to cue more diction. The other gesture which was new for me was one where he vibrated his hand up by his ear to cue vibrato, as if he was playing an invisible cello. After three video recordings, I chose my best and submitted it via his site: success!

The WYC audition took the most logistical coordination since I needed to arrange for an audition facilitator to administer a sight-reading portion. Thus, I enlisted the help of a vocal coach to oversee my audition process and I recorded everything in one go (sight-reading, range test, test piece, and personal selection). The sight-reading component was actually quite fair, but sight-reading has never been my strong suite so I just tried to make it through as best as I could. Anybody listening to my sight-reading attempt would definitely be able to hear that I was, indeed, sight-reading. Howell's "Requiem Aeternam" test piece for this application was actually my favorite out of the three test pieces I learned. It was nice having some open chords accompany me from my audition facilitator. While I enjoy doing things by myself, it was refreshing to have some support. After assembling some accompanying paperwork, I submitted my application to the Canadian jury this evening. Success! They will review all Canadian applications before they make their recommendations for which 12 Canadian singers to submit to the international jury.

Overall, it's been a busy week. I had been planning for three of the applications for the past month but it seemed like all the submissions culminated within the same week. While I don't expect for all of my applications to be accepted (other than the virtual choir because they accept everybody's), I rationalize that it's always good over over-apply. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my application blitz!

Until next time readers, take care!

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