Preparing for my Southbank Sinfonia Audition

On Thursday 10th September, I auditioned for the Southbank Sinfonia.

The audition requirements were:
- Haydn or Hummel Trumpet Concertos - First movement only
- An accompanied piece of your choice
- Selected Orchestral Excerpts
- Sight Reading

For my pieces, I chose to prepare the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto and Cantabile et Scherzetto by Philippe Gaubert. I have played these pieces numerous times with my pianist, Jennifer Hughes, so I knew that I'd feel comfortable and confident performing them again with her.

The orchestral excerpts given were from Carmen by Bizet, Don Quixote by Strauss, Stravinsky's Pulcinella, the opening of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.4 and also the final aria from J.S Bach's Christmas Oratorio (for the piccolo trumpet).

I decided that I wanted to organise a lesson with someone prior to my audition, so I contacted Kate Moore (Principal Trumpet of the BBC Concert Orchestra). I met up with Kate at Maida Vale Studios in London and we had a fantastic lesson, covering most of the audition repertoire together. 

 Maida Vale Studios, London

Maida Vale Studios, London

 

For the Haydn, Kate encouraged me to play the Eb trumpet as if it were a bigger trumpet and to generally play with a fuller, more orchestral sound, as that is what the panel would be looking for. With regards to the excerpts, Kate's main words of advice were to really connect the notes (particularly in the low register for Carmen) like a string of pearls - the notes are the pearls and your air is the string going through them all - and to really sing out the big melodies (like in Don Quixote). 

Another really helpful point which Kate made was to not over-think each excerpt. It is certainly easier said than done - especially in an audition situation! - but one can actually end up achieving "paralysis by analysis". The more relaxed and cool-minded you can be, trusting in what you already know about playing your instrument, the better. I came away from the lesson with a real boost of confidence and was glad to have a few days left to put what Kate had said into practice.

Two days before my audition, I had a mock audition with my boyfriend, Rupert, who is a trombone player. Although I wasn't feeling quite the same levels of nervousness and pressure as I would do for the real thing, it was a perfect opportunity to practise playing how I wanted to in the audition - this time in the great acoustic of St Matthew's Church, Surbiton. Rupert gave me a lot of useful feedback and I spent the next day doing minimal playing but a lot of visualisation, working out exactly how I wanted to play each piece or excerpt. 

 Inside St Matthew's Church, Surbiton

Inside St Matthew's Church, Surbiton

 

On the day of the audition, I was feeling pretty nervous, but tried to hold on to the confidence I had gained from my lesson with Kate and my run-through with Rupert. I knew that, now, I just needed to trust in my preparation. The audition itself was at St John's Waterloo, lasting 15 minutes and was to a panel of four people. It went well overall and I was just relieved for the audition to finally be done!

 St John's Waterloo

St John's Waterloo

 

I was thrilled to hear the next day that the panel had enjoyed my playing and that I had been offered a Second-Round Interview. It was a great feeling to know that my practice and preparation had paid off just when I needed it to. So now to prepare for my interview... Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly!