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Laurie Niles

March 11, 2004 at 6:05 PM

I have some very good news!

I received a letter from the LA Philharmonic: “I am pleased to inform you that we have received enough cancellations that it is now possible to guarantee you an audition for the position of Section Violin with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.”


My turn is on the afternoon of March 20, at Disney Hall. Disney Hall!

I now am working on changing my mindset from being determined just to get this audition to trying to win it. It has been a daunting task, just getting the music in order. Even though I’ve been working on it for three months, there is still plenty to do. I’m sure that no one will mind if I publish the list at this late date, so here is what they are asking for:

A Mozart concerto, first movement

First movement from one of the following concertos: Bartok #2, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Glazunov, Mendelssohn, Sibelius or Tchaikovsky (I’m doing the Tchaik)

Adams, Naïve and Sentimental Music, excerpt from first movement

Berg, part of third piece in the “Lyric Suite”

Beethoven, Eroica Symphony, beginning of Scherzo

Brahms, Variations on a Theme by Haydn, all of it! I love this piece, the St. Anthony Chorale was the tune for my alma mater song at Northwestern

Mozart Symphony 39, movements 1, 2 and 4. (Is this the hardest thing of all? Yes, I think so!)

Mendelssohn, Midsummer Night’s Dream Scherzo, first page

Strauss, Don Juan, first and last page.

It takes me at least two and a half hours to play straight through this music. If I work on things it takes more like four hours. The committee will likely hear about five minutes of it. I have to conquer a lot of neuroses to make those five minutes the most stellar music-playing I’m capable of. No easy task, here!

In order for that to happen, I need to know this music, and every bar of it, so well that I can play it standing on my head and in my sleep. My music has little Post-it notes all over, with the metronome markings that I have been slowly easing up over the last months. I have two metronomes in use, one is the really loud, bang-out-the-beat variety. The other “Mr. Beat” does complicated machinations, like dividing the beat into triplets or 16th notes so that I can get as much as 1,000 beats per minute pounding at my ear. Not that I ever need it quite that fast, but it does help to have the option of subdividing for music like the Mendelssohn Scherzo.

And it is not just my studio that reflects my efforts; the entire house does. It is evident in the piles of washed but unfolded laundry; the children’s toys strewn all over the house; the dishes, piling ever higher; the husband, with a somewhat weary but resigned expression on his face – he has seen this before: “audition mode.”

Well, it’s back to practicing for me. I’ve never been so happy to be doing an audition!

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