Audition Rituals

2017 is the year of the auditions! I took a few years off from the audition circuit and now I am taking most of the bassoon auditions that pop up. This new direction has been great for my daily practice routine.

I have a few audition rituals that I’ve started and have found them to be useful to me. As far as travel goes, I arrive into town 2 days before the audition so that I have a full day in the hotel to practice and work on reeds. I also stay within walking distance from the audition location so that on the day I can relax.

My favorite part of taking auditions is the opportunity to travel to cities that I would never normally visit. So I buy a keychain on the day after my audition is over, this is the only physical token of the whole event. I have a terrible memory so this is nice over time to look back at past auditions.

The more important tradition is note taking. Immediately after I play and go back to my case to pack up I take the front page of the audition packet and jot down everything that happened, good and bad. This has extended even further to keeping track of the time I wake up, eat for breakfast, how nervous I’m feeling, time of audition, reed situation, temperature etc…

This all stemmed from the first few auditions that I took. They were spaced far apart with many onrush or years in between, and I had this idea that I was probably making the same mistakes over and over again from one place to another and not remembering what went wrong at the last audition. So keeping track of the variables on the audition day has become as important as what actually happened with my playing.

Bonna Case

I was shopping for cases after selling my Wiseman case with my Fox bassoon. The Heckel came with a Gewa case, but the tenor and long joint would rub together and was creating some wear to the varnish of the wood. The Gewa case also came with an Altieri case cover which was too loose and uncomfortable to wear. The advantage of the Gewa case is the outside pocket of the case cover was large enough to hold original parts and a folding bassoon stand.

Gewa Bassoon Case

So my first thought was to get another Wiseman case. I had enjoyed mine for many years and now Wiseman has more options for interior colors and a fiberglass version. The big hurdle was the price, which is sort of justified since its kind of on par with luxury travel luggage. Even though the tenor and long joints were stored together I never found that they moved or created damage. I didn’t even mind that the storage was limited. What bothered me was that the case was large and heavy, which made it hard to walk with for a distance.

Wiseman Bassoon Case

Some of my friends have the Bonna case and I was curious about it, I went to Forrests to look at them. What surprised me was that it was very light weight and held the bassoon securely in place. I ended up getting one to at least try for a few months, and so far I like it. The bocal storage is small pouches on the floor of the case, it conflicts with my french whisper key so I keep them in a bocal box in my bag. The tenor joint and long joint have a small amount of space between them so they don’t rub. This case doesn’t have a pouch to hold large original parts, so I use a music folder. This case is so far the easiest to use and walk with.Bonna Bassoon Case

Summer of ’69

Nicolas Lell Benavides is currently a composer in residence with the Elevate Ensemble. He recently wrote a piece titled ‘Summer of ’69’ which is a multimedia work involving projected video and chamber orchestra. This was fun to play and utilized a minimalist composition technique, by giving players short musical games that we would play when cued. This was also my first performance on my new instrument, I picked it up earlier in the week!

Franck Sonata

I finally got to perform the Franck Sonata, which I had just been practicing for fun. This was originally a violin sonata and was such a great piece that cellists began to play it as well. I am playing off of the Jules Desart edition of the Cello Sonata which works on the Contraforte just fine. The Pianist is Britton Day (who is amazing!)

Brahms Cello Sonata

Here is a recent performance of the Brahms Cello Sonata no. 1 in e minor. This was a recital at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on October 25, 2015.