I started out the semester by skipping the first day of school. Well actually, I had an audition, and I didn’t have any classes, but either way I wasn’t here. Monday I had my Cleveland Institute of Music audition, and I am happy to report that it went really well. Tom and I arrived 30 minutes early, and we didn’t actually have to be there until 9:00, so I wondered around for an hour, getting myself acquainted with the school and chatting other auditionees. The first thing I noticed was how I was readily identified by everyone as a Grad student. It was a bit of a shocker, I guess I’m getting older! (Tom assured me it was surely just my confidence.) After a welcome my the president of admissions, I decided to take the first offered Theory and Aural Skills test. Now, those that can remember back on my Theory and Aural skills days here at Oberlin know that we have a very tense relationship. Apparently the hostility still exists, because by the time I finished the tests I had a horrible headache which has continued to afflict me two days later. Regardless, I did my best, and I was actually a bit surprised by the things I did remember, considering I haven’t studied either for 2 years. There was a meet the faculty meeting at 12:00. This gave me a chance to see all the other auditionees- many of whom I had previously identified due to their colorful outfits and obvious confidence in comparison with the concert black of the instrumentalists. Most of them were applying for the undergraduate program, there were probably only 5 of us auditioning for the Grad programs. The opera coach was in there before I arrived, a very nice fellow though incredibly awkward. (He would later play for my audition, and we actually had a really nice conversation about learning languages.) We chatted for a bit when I first arrived, as he asked my name, and I had the conversation of where it came from and why I was given it. Later the Tenor on faculty arrived. He had the blown back hair, grayed from age, and the robust chest. He sat comfortably a top a desk and looked down most of the meeting. Then arrived the newest faculty member, a young baritone, who seemed full of life and energy. He was clean cut and very open in his movements and facial expressions. Finally, the Soprano on faculty arrived, last. She wore a red felt cape-like thing that had flaps that came in front of her arms. Around her neck was a velvet scarf of bright rich colors. Due, perhaps to the necessitys of her cape, she held her arms out to the sides with her hands positioned in delicate almost balletic form. She ran the meeting, and pursing her bright red lipstiched lips in a southern-belle smile, she turned from side to side talking and then inviting her colleagues to discuss various aspects of the school and program. I found the whole meeting rather hilarious.
After a modest lunch I sat in the hall and waited for my practice room time. (Everyone got exactly 30 minutes immediately before their audition.) I did a serious of breath exercises, to relax my previously tensed muscles, and to get my body into the process of breathing for singing. I hummed through my songs, and reviewed the translations. When the time had come I warmed up, rehearsed with the assigned accompanist and went in. I started with an old standard for me “Du Gai Soleil” a short little aria from Massenet’s “Werther.” Then then asked what I would like to sing next, I chose Wolf’s “Auch Kleine Dinge.” It is a beautiful song, with long fluid lines, and complete emphasis on words and meaning. I think everyone was a bit surprised by my repertoire list. I decided to forgo showy stuff in order to sing things that I love to sing, and that fit comfortably in my voice. I finished with “Come unto Him” from Handel’s “Messiah.” I was impressed by the faculty, they watched attentively, and seemed to actually enjoy my performing. (Something you rarely see from the Oberlin faculty, who often stare blankly at their audition forms, and rarely look up.) When I was done, I got a sense of excitement from them. They had me sit down and we talked for about 15 minutes. They asked if I had any questions, and we talked about performing opportunities, my goals for the future, what I think about my technique, and silly stuff like if my parents are from Sweden, the specifics of my name and Tom’s MSTP program. I was again struck by the kind open qualities of the faculty. Directly after, Ms. Schiller, the professor I had hoped to study with came up and in a hushed voice she held up her scarf as if to talk under it, asked if I was the one who had wrote several months ago. I told her I was, and she said she was sorry she wasn’t able to respond (I was hoping to have a lesson with her before the audition.) She asked if I would like to get together that afternoon or anytime that would work for me. We agreed on my coming at the end of the month, in conjunction with seeing the school’s production of “The Magic Flute.” I hope her determination that we get together means that she is interested in having me as a student. They told me that they choose their productions only after they know who is coming, basing their selections around the voices they have.
All in all, I came away feeling confident. I think it was a blessing that I wasn’t too gun-hoe about getting in there, as I was and still am considering other options. As a result I didn’t feel any competition with the other auditionees or even pressure on myself. I am so glad I went ahead and auditioned. I came away feeling like CIM might actually be a great match for me, allowing me to get my masters in a more low key, less competitive, and yet nurturing atmosphere. We’ll see what happens, come March.
As far as my semester goes this semester it is actually going to be relatively open. I am taking only 12 credits for the first time ever, I typically take the max-17. Right now I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays! I will obviously fill up the other days with work, rehearsals, teaching, and meetings, but still, I’m pretty excited. I am taking: Romantic Music History, Voice lessons, Baroque Ensemble (hoepfully), French Diction, Entering Discourse Communities, and I might audit a class on Buddhism. I’m considering taking an ex-co (student taught) on Website Design, or possibly pottery. Any suggestions?