Chamber orchestra to host its very first concerto competition

Jenny Sabliov, Arts and Entertainment editor

The Mercyhurst University department of Music is hosting its very first concerto/aria competition with the Chamber Orchestra.
The auditions will take place in Walker Recital Hall on Jan. 22, at 3 p.m.
The deadline to register is on Nov. 21.
Registration can be done through the music department’s website.
However, applicants must meet certain criteria before they apply.
Up to one highschooler and two college students will be chosen.
The winners will perform with the Mercyhurst Chamber Orchestra during their spring concert on May 7.
Only students enrolled in private lessons, on or off campus, may apply.
The repertoire that may be performed during the audition varies.
The instrumentalists must do a single movement or a thoroughly composed solo concerto.
The vocalists must have a maximum of two contrasting works for solo voice and orchestra.
The audition must be performed from memory and cannot go over 10 minutes.
An accompanist is required and is the sole responsibility of the applicant.
A concerto competition offers the music students the ability to prepare their craft more effectively than a jury would because there is a reward at the end of it.
It can also be a good recruiting tool for potential students coming into the music department because it showcases the program.
The high school division requires that they are already involved with the Mercyhurst Chamber Orchestra or participating with the Chamber Music Program.
“There was a competition a few years ago that was broader in scope, but when we designed this competition we were looking for how it could benefit the students more,” Jonathan Moser said.
Moser is the director of the chamber orchestra and this competition.
The concerto competition that used to take place on campus was an international competition and did not involve any of the school’s ensembles.
So this new inaugural competition is the very first time this department is doing this.
The application requires that the students check their submission with Moser before applying because the concerto that they audition with will be the concerto that the orchestra will perform in the spring, if they are selected.
This is because the orchestra is not large enough to sustain certain concertos.
“We are looking for someone who is going to be able to represent themselves well and be comfortable in the process so it is possible that if people are not adequately prepared, that there will not be a winner,” Moser said.
During the audition, they are looking for preparation, memorization, stage presence and an ability to perform the piece without stopping.
“Mistakes will always happen, so perfection is not in our nature, but you’re looking for a well-prepared piece. Something that has musical coherency,” Moser said.
The application requires a recommendation from a teacher who can judge if a student is ready for a competition because it makes it easier to judge the auditioners, which offers an increased level of fairness.
The concerto competition will most likely become an annual affair.
“This is not about building up the department, but looking for students who are dedicated to building up their craft,” Moser said.