Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 8, 2021

REVIEW: Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Art of the Audition

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield, MA

March 4, 2021

by Michael J. Moran


Since Symphony Hall closed when the Covid pandemic began a year ago, SSO musicians have presented a weekly “Homegrown” series of short videos performing in their homes which are available for free streaming on the SSO website. SSO also offers a series of “90-minute virtual lecture/music education events” via Zoom.

Emily Taubi
In the fifth installment of that series, Principal Cellist Emily Taubl discussed “The Art of the Audition: From Conservatory to Career.” Based in Burlington, VT, Taubl was born and grew up in Derry, NH, and trained at Juilliard, Yale, the Hartt School, and the New England Conservatory. She founded the Conservatory Audition Workshop, an annual summer program which prepares students to audition for elite music schools. Taubl and her Champlain Trio colleagues are filming a documentary on Vermont performance venues during Covid called “Empty Stages,” which should air on PBS soon.


Taubl described her own typical experience of over 50 auditions between age 7 and graduate school as one reason why “it’s so hard to be a musician.” While performing with a hand injury after a successful Juilliard audition, she found the experience was grueling. She recalled her school auditions (including a win at Hartt, when she was hailed as “the next young Jacqueline du Pre”) as less pressured than her professional auditions, where fierce competition and an isolating format can make or break a career path. She played three of her favorite audition pieces with dexterity (one by Haydn) and grace (two by Bach).      


Answering audience questions, Taubl credited her NEC teacher Paul Katz for helping her “find who I am as an artist” and master the “nerves [that] become a factor in every musician’s life,” recommended that auditions be reformed to include interview and chamber performance opportunities. She praised Maestro Kevin Rhodes as bringing a “perfect” balance of discipline and fun to the SSO. Assistant Concertmaster Marsha Harbison, who was on the call, added perspective on how SSO auditioning has changed over her own 40 years with the orchestra.


The next program in this series will be held on Thursday, March 18, at 7:30 pm, when SSO Education Director Kirsten Lipkins begins a three-part series on “Orchestral Literacy.”