Applications

The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras have decided to have all applicants submit a continuousunedited video audition instead of an in-person audition. We have determined that not only will this be the safest alternative to an in-person audition experience, but it will also give applicants greater flexibility.

While these audition videos will determine enrollment in the PYSO program for the 2021-2022 season, all students will have additional testing and sight reading during the first two weeks of the season to ensure all students are placed in the ensemble that is the best fit for their ability.

Auditions for PYSO’s upcoming 2021-2022 Season are now open!

We are still accepting auditions and application videos.

Please see below for Audition Requirements and Video Submission Requirements.

  • All students (new and current) are required to audition for the 2021/22 season.
  • There is an audition fee of $30 per application. Those who are in Pasadena Unified School District music programs OR require financial assistance to waive the audition fee, please email Alex Chu at [email protected]
  • Rehearsals are held on Tuesday (intermediate and advanced ensembles) and Sunday (most advanced ensemble).
  • Students auditioning for Philharmonic, our highest level ensemble, will be asked to prepare 2-4 excerpts, depending on instrument, to perform for their video audition. These excerpts can be found below.

If you have any questions, please contact Alex Chu, Director of Education and Community Engagement, at [email protected]

Audition information has been updated as of May 3, 2021.

Audition Requirements

The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras offer multiple ensembles for musicians of all ages and skill levels.

During the audition, adjudicators will take into account an applicant’s preferred ensemble but will ultimately recommend the ensemble that would be the best fit for that applicant’s level. There are some cases where we determine that students need more experience before joining a PYSO ensemble and encourage them to re-audition at a later time.

Begin your video by introducing yourself (name, instrument) and saying which two scales you will be playing and title & composer of your solo.

The audition video consists of the following components:
  1. Two Scales
    • Applicants will be asked to perform TWO scales total
      • ONE scale of your choice that best demonstrates your ability
      • ONE scale from their preferred ensemble requirements found below
    • Each scale should be in a different key and can be Major or Minor.
      • Those auditioning for Philharmonic should perform one major, one minor.
      • Scales should be played from memory.
      • STRINGS: Scales should be performed at a minimum tempo of one quarter note per pitch at 120 bpm, ideally slurring 2 notes per bow, and no faster than you can play cleanly and evenly.
      • WINDS: The chromatic scale should be slurred (all notes even), either continuous up and down or stopping at the top before descending. The major (or minor) scale of your choice should be completely articulated (no slurs). Speed and accuracy are important- play as fast as possible, cleanly.
  2. Solo of your choice without accompaniment
    • Each applicant will perform a solo, from 2-4 minutes, depending on their level, that ideally demonstrates contrasting tempi or styles.
    • The solo should be well-prepared and may come from Suzuki books, etudes, concertos, solo repertoire, or other sources. Please consult with your private music teacher or school music teacher for help selecting an appropriate solo.
    • “A piece that best demonstrates your current ability level…” does not mean the most difficult work that you can “sort of” play right now. Your choice of piece will not affect which ensemble you are placed (or not placed).  The goal of the audition is to demonstrate that you can play your instrument at a high level, demonstrating strong proficiency in the technical ability, tone quality, and musical demands of the music that you choose to present for him/her.
    • All applicants will be required to submit a copy or photo of their solo music along with their audition video.
  3. Excerpts (Philharmonic only)
    • Students auditioning for Philharmonic, our highest level ensemble, will be asked to prepare all provided excerpts, depending on instrument, to perform for their video audition. These excerpts can be found below.

 

1. All above components of the video must be done in ONE take. Do not stop and start the camera between components. All components must be performed in the order listed above.
2. If you do not like a take, you may try again, as long as your final submission is in one continuous unedited take.
3. You may not edit, cut, splice, or otherwise alter your performance.
4. Picture must remain stationary: no panning, zooming, multiple cameras, fading in/out.
5. Video framing: Place the video recording device so that you, your instrument, and your full range of motion are in the frame at all times. Make sure your music stand does not cover your face, instrument, arms/hands and range of motion.
6. Video must not exceed 8 minutes. Judge will stop watching at 8 minutes. Make sure all the components of your audition fit within 8 minutes. It is ok if your video is less than 8 minutes.
7. Tune instrument to A=440.

 

Your audition will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Tone Quality
  • Intonation
  • Rhythm, Pulse, and Articulation
  • Musicality, Dynamics, Phrasing, and Style
  • Technique, including vibrato, shifting, set-up
  • Overall performance and preparation
  • Applicants will be asked to perform TWO scales total
    • ONE scale of your choice that best demonstrates your ability
    • ONE scale from their preferred ensemble requirements found below
  • Each scale should be in a different key and can be Major or Minor.
    • Those auditioning for Philharmonic should perform one major, one minor.
    • Scales should be played from memory.
    • Scales should be performed at a minimum tempo of one quarter note per pitch at 120 bpm, ideally slurring 2 notes per bow, and no faster than you can play cleanly and evenly.
  • Difficult scales will receive a higher score than easier ones. However, a well-played scale, no matter the difficulty, is best.

Prelude Strings:

  • 2 scales total
  • Play 1 scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability and 1 scale from the following requirements: (ascending and descending): All 1-octave major scales through two sharps and one flats.

String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble:

  • 2 scales total
  • Play 1 scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability and 1 scale from the following requirements: Memorized Scales (ascending and descending): All 2-octave major scales through three sharps and two flats.

Symphony:

  • 2 scales total
  • Play 1 scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability and 1 scale from the following requirements: Memorized Scales (ascending and descending): All 3-octave major scales through three sharps and three flats.

Philharmonic:

  • 2 scales total
  • Play 1 scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability and 1 scale from the following requirements: Memorized Scales (ascending and descending): All 3-octave major scales through four sharps and four flats; the following 2 octave melodic minor scales: a, d, e, g, b, c, and f.
  • Applicants will be asked to perform TWO scales total
    • ONE chromatic scale demonstrating your performing range
    • ONE scale from their preferred ensemble requirements found below
  • Those auditioning for Philharmonic should perform one major, one minor.
  • Scales should be played from memory.
  • The chromatic scale should be slurred (all notes even), either continuous up and down or stopping at the top before descending. The major (or minor) scale of your choice should be completely articulated (no slurs). Speed and accuracy are important- play as fast as possible, cleanly.
  • Difficult scales will receive a higher score than easier ones. However, a well-played scale, no matter the difficulty, is best.

Wind Ensemble:

  • 2 scales total
  • Woodwinds:  Play 1 2-octave chromatic scale and 1 scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability.
  • Brass: Play a chromatic scale from a low “concert F” and continue up to the highest comfortable note and back down to the same “concert F” and a scale of your choosing that most demonstrates your ability.

Symphony:

  • 2 scales total
  • Memorized Scales (ascending and descending): Play 1 scale of your choosing from the following that most demonstrates your ability: All 2-octave major scales through three sharps and three flats.
  • Play a Chromatic scale to demonstrate your performing range

Philharmonic:

  • 2 scales total
  • Memorized Scales (ascending and descending): Play 1 scale of your choosing from the following that most demonstrates your ability: All 2-octave major scales through four sharps and four flats; 2-octave melodic minor scales through two sharps and two flats.
  • Play a Chromatic scale to demonstrate your performing range

Philharmonic, Symphony, Wind Ensemble:

  • Prepare a 2-3 minute solo on the snare drum, timpani, or mallets. (Please choose one) If you are auditioning on a mallet instrument, please be prepared to perform a scale of your choice.
  • Philharmonic: Prepare the excerpt required of your instrument (posted in April)

Prospective percussion musicians for all ensembles have the choice to perform their sight reading on snare drum, timpani, or mallets. Students may be asked to perform on an additional instrument.

Video Submission Guidelines

The Artistic staff of the PYSO will review all submitted video auditions. The adjudicators expect high-quality video recordings that are the best possible representation of an applicant’s technical ability, tone quality, and musicianship.

Below are a few guidelines when preparing to make the video audition recording:

  • Consider lighting, framing, and camera placement. Please make certain you are well-lit — more light in front than behind you will make you more visible to the viewer. Place the camera so that your entire face, your instrument, and your full range of motion are in the frame at all times. Choose a medium distance that shows as much detail as possible, while still allowing the image to be framed as described above.
    • Place the camera on a tripod or flat surface when shooting to keep the camera from shaking.
    • For phone or tablet users, devices should be set horizontally – put it in Airplane mode or Do Not Disturb mode to avoid interruptions – and tap the screen to focus.  Do not use the zoom function as this makes the image grainy or fuzzy.
  • Good sound quality will make a substantial difference for the judges to get the most accurate sense of your music making, tone, and timbre. However, professional equipment and/or studio space is not necessary. With attention to a few details, you can make a successful audition video using readily available consumer electronics.
    • Test the audio level so that there is no distortion during the loudest passages of your selections, while also making sure that the softest portions can still be heard. If possible, consider using an external microphone (recommended, but completely optional) connected to your camera to record your playing and speaking.
    • Do not play directly into the microphone.
  • Please give careful consideration to the room/environment that you are recording your video. Try to record in a quiet, echo-free space, and eliminate background noise as much as you can.
    • Be mindful of miscellaneous items in the background that may be distracting to the viewer.
  • Prior to recording your audition video, clean and/or adjust your instrument to be sure it is in the best possible condition. You may wish to ask your music teacher or a professional repair person to look at your instrument to assist with any necessary adjustments.
  • Please dress comfortably, but professionally for the video. You want the viewer to listen to your playing. Nice business casual, or the same thing you would wear to a classical music performance.
  • Please be certain to WATCH AND LISTEN to your video before submission, checking your audio levels and visual presentation of the video overall. TIP: Take multiple takes of your entire audition, then submit your best audition recording.
  • You will be uploading your video files using an online Google Form. A Google account is not required to upload the files. File sizes up to 1 GB are accepted. We recommend using a format and resolution that is consistent with high-quality internet video.
    • Should you wish to provide us a YouTube or Vimeo link of your audition, please create a word document containing the hyperlink (URL) to your video and name the document using the file naming convention as shown above.
Frequently Asked Questions

All public, parochial, private and home school students in grades 6-12 are eligible to audition for PYSO. PYSO is an enhancement to existing school programs, not a substitute. PYSO strongly encourages all musicians to participate in their school music program. Private lessons are also encouraged.

Yes, there is a non-refundable $30 fee to audition for PYSO. Please bring a check with you on the audition day made out to “PYSO”

When you arrive at Oak Avenue Intermediate School, please visit the check- in table and we will direct you to the warm up space. When it is time for your audition, a volunteer will escort you to the audition room.

The audition panel will consist of 1-2 judges. These judges may be a PYSO conductor, coach, or other member of the PYSO community. Your audition will last for approximately 15 minutes.

During your audition, you may be asked to stop playing and move on to another solo, scale, or sight reading piece. This is a common occurrence and does not reflect upon your performance. You may also be asked about your other playing experiences, including participation in your school program and your private lessons.

On the audition application we ask which PYSO ensemble you are auditioning for. This assists PYSO staff when scheduling specific audition times with members of the audition panel. During your audition, you will be considered for all PYSO ensembles. For example, even if you select the “String Orchestra” as your preferred ensemble, you will also be considered for the Symphony and the Philharmonic.

No, your solo piece for the PYSO audition does not need to be memorized. Please bring a second copy of the solo part for the audition panel.

No, PYSO auditions are performed un-accompanied.

On the application, please note if you have certain restrictions and need to be placed at a specific time range (morning, afternoon, not on Saturday, etc). While we try and accommodate all requests, please be flexible and provide multiple availabilities.

On the application, please note if you are carpooling with another applicant to the audition. We do our best to accommodate requests.

Audition times will be distributed via email on or before Wednesday, May 11th. If you apply after May 11th, you will be notified of your audition time approximately two-three days after you complete your application. Watch for an email from Mr. Alex Chu, Manager, at [email protected].

Auditions take place at Oak Avenue Intermediate School (6623 Oak Ave, Temple City, CA 91780). Plan to arrive approximately 30 minutes before your audition to allow for adequate warm-up time.

There is a communal warm-up room at the audition location. There is also a seating area for family members.

While there is no uniform to audition, neat dress is appreciated! We recommend students wear nice clothes that are comfortable to perform in. This is the first impression you are making on the audition panel, which will include PYSO conductors and coaches.

The primary criterion for placement is the student’s playing. The audition panel evaluates students’ tone, intonation, rhythm, musicality, and technique on the solo piece, scale, and the sight reading. Instrumentation needs for the ensembles may also be considered. PYSO does not place students based upon their grade level. All placements are final.

Results will be sent via US Mail in June.