Nathan Cole's NY Phil audition challenge—on viola!

Summer is a slow season me these days. I've sort of outgrown summer festivals as a student, but I don't have a job with a substantial summer season yet. In mid-June, my Civic Fellowship ended, I ran through a gauntlet of big auditions, then flew to Europe for my first actual vacation in I don't know how long. (My only obligations were nights at the opera and dinners in castles. Thank GOD.) Still, I took my instrument, because as soon as I got back to the States, I had to scramble to Brevard for their 80th anniversary alumni reunion weekend to play two concerts there.

 See the case on my back as I pose by a Roman aqueduct in Spain? Yeah...

See the case on my back as I pose by a Roman aqueduct in Spain? Yeah...

Now, I'm back in Chicago, with nothing substantial on the horizon until September. That's two full months that I could sit back, drink beer and catch up on Game of Thrones. But, let's be honest, if that's all I was doing, it still wouldn't fill the entire two months, and I'm not used to sitting still that long. 

(Not that practicing for a few hours a day would keep me from TV and beer... I've seen season one and season six of GoT and NOTHING IN BETWEEN. But I digress.)

So! I was fascinated with Nathan Cole's New York Phil audition challenge when it began last year. Unfortunately, it was centered entirely around a violin audition—since I'll never take a violin audition (especially for the New York Phil), I reluctantly dismissed it while it was going on and focused on my own challenges, even as it occasionally popped up on my facebook feed. Still, I always thought it could easily translate on viola.

Now, with my completely open schedule, I need something to keep me in shape. This could force me to focus on fundamentals and maybe give me the boost I need to do better on my next round of real auditions. So, now seems like the perfect opportunity to give it a shot!

To preserve the integrity of the original challenge, I will follow each week's instructions/exercises and post a progress video at the end. For reference, this is the original Philharmonic audition packet. Nathan Cole added a few additional etudes and scales on top of the required concerto and six excerpts. I will try to stick as closely to the original list as possible—otherwise his advice, and some of the interim challenges, would be kind of useless.

Here are the original requirements, along with what I've chosen as the viola analogues.

Original Challenge
Viola Version
Schradieck, 1st three pages
Kreutzer Etude No. 9
Dont Op. 35 No. 6
2-octave C major scale in 3rds
Mozart Concerto 3, 4, or 5
first movement exposition
Stamitz Concerto in D Major
first movement exposition
Strauss Don Juan, first page
Schubert Symphony No. 2, I.
Allegro vivace-1 before B
Mozart Symphony No. 35, IV.
mm. 134-181
Brahms Symphony No. 4, III.
mm. 1-63
Debussy La Mer, II.
Ravel Suite from Daphnis et Chloe
Mahler Symphony No. 5, IV.
mm. 2-54
Mahler Symphony No. 10, I.
Schumann Symphony No. 2, Scherzo
mm. 1-54
Mendelssohn Scherzo from "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

I think these excerpts generally present the same challenges, and they're all VERY standard, just like the violin excerpts. I still have a week or two before I even touch the excerpts, though, so if there's a better analogue that I've missed, don't hesitate to let me know! I have a feeling I'll reconsider some of these, since I don't know the violin excerpts nearly as well, but we'll see.

Well, that's it! I'll see you for my first progress video, week 14!