My name is Charlotte Goode, and I’m a Los Angeles-based violist. As I prepare for my master’s auditions this fall, I wanted to give a peek under the curtain of the realities of audition preparation through this article series! Throughout the next several months, and up until I make my acceptance decision in Spring of 2022 (fingers crossed!), I will be chronicling and reflecting on my audition journey. Whether you are auditioning for a concerto competition, orchestra, or university/conservatory program, the preparation is astronomical compared to the 3-20 minutes of actual audition time. While it is July 2021 at the time of this publication, I began my preparation for this audition in earnest back in February. For the schools I plan on auditioning for, the list of works expected is long and varies at each school. I’ve decided to audition at three programs: USC Thornton School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins.
All the Repertoire I’m Learning:
Bach Cello Suite (arr. for Viola) in Cm, “Prelude” and “Courante” - as always, solo Bach needs to be memorized, as well! Bartok Viola Concerto, full, memorized - also a standard requirement! For violists, we typically only have the “big three” (Walton, Hindemith, and Bartok) to choose from, so this is often the simplest choice! For me, I’ve learned Walton and Hindemith before, and the concerto I have always personally connected with the most is the Bartok.
Rochberg Viola Sonata - this was my choice for my sonata/duo work. Usually, a complete sonata is required for graduate auditions, and often, this is where you have the most freedom in repertoire choice! I personally have always loved the versatility and drama of the Rochberg sonata. Because this is the most personal choice in the audition, I wanted to demonstrate my love for modern music and extended techniques. The Rochberg sonata shows a huge range of what the viola and the violist are capable of. Technical versatility, as well as immense artistry, are required to play this piece well, and I want to show that I am up for the challenge! Jessie Montgomery Rhapsody No. 2 - A new requirement for many schools is to include a work written after 1980, and I certainly can’t complain about that! 20th and 21st-century music is my absolute favorite, and this piece by Jessie Montgomery is a beautiful recent addition to the virtuoso viola repertoire! 19th Century Something - I have to admit, I haven’t selected exactly what piece I’ll resurrect from my repertoire for this prescreening requirement for USC. It will likely be either a movement of Schumann’s Märchenbilder (Fairy Tale Pictures) for Viola and Piano, or the viola transcription of Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro.
At this point in my preparation, I’ve memorized both movements of Bach, have made my way through a first pass of work on the Rochberg, and am focusing on the 1st movement - particularly the exposition - of Bartok. When preparing a significant body of repertoire, for auditions, recitals, etc., it’s important to have a plan and to pace yourself! Burnout is definitely a risk; when you’re playing so much music for such a prolonged period of time, it’s important to create a cycle to help allow yourself to have time away from certain pieces at different times. I also just sent emails inquiring about trial lessons to all the teachers I’m auditioning for, which is a really exciting part of the process! I’m so excited to take you all through this process with me and excited to get closer and closer to my MM!