Orchestra auditions are heard across the worldTweet
University Orchestra auditions proved to be a global affair this month, as a Music Department faculty member was able to judge the tryouts from a classroom in Tokyo.
Janey Choi, a lecturer and renowned violinist, had been invited to present and design a seminar called “Leadership in Music Communication” with two fellow teaching artists. The Sept. 1-3 seminar was held jointly at three schools in Japan: Tokyo College of Music, Kobe College and Showa University of Music.
“It was a centerpiece event in which they had us come in for a three-day workshop that we created about interactive concerts and communicating with your audience,” Choi said.
After the seminar had been set, Choi realized the dates coincided with University Orchestra auditions.
“I just hadn’t made the connection,” she said. “I was really stressed about it.”
A strings faculty member such as Choi is required to attend the strings auditions not only to determine who qualifies for the orchestra, but to pick who is able to enter lesson programs.
“Because I’m choosing students who will be in my studio, it’s important that I get to see them, hear them and get an idea about their personality and how they will function within the program,” Choi said.
Choi was considering using Skype when assistant professor Paul Schleuse mentioned that the University’s video-conferencing technology had been used in the past with the Manhattan School of Music. She then worked with the University’s telecommunications department to make sure a video system would be usable in the audition room and that Tokyo College of Music had compatible equipment.
“Miraculously, they just had (the video equipment) installed for a three-year music project” with Kobe College and Showa University of Music, Choi said.
After test runs were conducted in the summer, Choi, Binghamton and Tokyo College of Music decided to proceed with the project. Choi would judge the Monday and Wednesday evening auditions in Binghamton on what was Tuesday and Thursday morning in Tokyo.
“It was a crazy schedule,” she said. “I was sitting in a room at Tokyo College of Music by myself in front of a video camera at 6 a.m. I heard the auditions, and by 9:45 I was presenting at the conference.”
Choi saw dozens of auditions over nine hours and was pleased with the video and audio quality of the technology. “Watching on video was almost as good as being there,” she said. “I could see how they interacted with faculty and they could hear me talking too.
“The rest of the audition panel was really accommodating. They would scan me a sign-up list so I knew the names of everyone. … After (auditioners) played, I would get e-mail updates about schedules and contact information.”
Choi sees great potential for the use of video technology within a department such as music. The auditions and seminar have her considering the development of master classes with schools in Japan.
“We’re lucky that we are part of a university that has an advanced technology center,” she said. “Some music schools don’t have access to that technology. … It would be great to carve out a couple of hours for a (video) master class instead of flying somewhere and finding a travel budget. We’ve got the resources. We should try to use them.”