All Region orchestra auditions go virtual

Practicing+with+the+orchestra+back+in+January%2C+sophomore+Christine+Verzo+follows+the+music.+Orchestra+students+began+auditioning+for+All+Region+on+Saturday%2C+but+the+process+looks+different+this+year+as+the+Texas+Music+Educators+Association+made+the+decision+to+require+virtual+auditions+due+to+COVID-19.+

Sarah Boutouis

Practicing with the orchestra back in January, sophomore Christine Verzo follows the music. Orchestra students began auditioning for All Region on Saturday, but the process looks different this year as the Texas Music Educators Association made the decision to require virtual auditions due to COVID-19.

Hannah Beeler, Staff Reporter

Orchestra students began auditioning for this year’s All Region orchestra on Saturday, however due to the pandemic, this year’s audition process is a little different.

“All-Region is a process that students can choose to go through. They are given orchestra music snippets and etudes at the beginning of school and they work on it until the beginning of October,” assistant director of orchestras Victoria Lien said via email. “In October, they would audition for judges in a ‘blind’ audition, which means that the judges do not know who is playing and are judging purely on the quality of playing. The top students are then selected to be in the All-Region orchestra, which is a huge  honor”.

TMEA made the decision to require virtual auditions due to the current conditions of the pandemic.

“If someone were to make the All Region Orchestra, they would normally have to learn new music to perform with the other selected musicians,” violinist Satvik Duddukuru said via email. “They would then rehearse this piece and perform it for an audience. This year, due to COVID-19, there will be no rehearsal or performance, but the musicians who are selected for All Region will receive a commemorative patch instead.”

Students will have five days to submit their audition recording to the website Musicfirst.

“Some positive things are the fact that you can try for as many times as you want to get the best recording possible,” cellist Joseph Jung said via text. “However there is a blind audition aspect that raises some concerns. The main concern is that private lesson teachers might record for their students, giving them a very big advantage in the audition process. The system only records audio, so there is no way to tell who is really playing the music.”

Many students, such as violinist Jennifer Baek, believe that this year’s virtual auditions will help to make them better musicians.  

“I think a virtual audition will help me to continue to get much better at recording my performances,” Baek said via email. “Many auditions I have done in the past have required recorded components and I believe some auditions will keep a virtual component in their audition processes in the future.”