Audition FAQ

By Isabel Thiroux, Director of Orchestra Operations, AYS Alumnus

Updated June 2020

There is no fee to apply and this is a tuition-free program.

No, you do not have to currently be a student to audition for AYS. AYS is open to musicians 15 years of age as of September 30, 2019. The orchestra includes those in high school through doctoral programs as well as those who have completed their education. There is no age limit, but the average age of our members is 22. 

Be sure to enter your email correctly on your Audition Application. Your application will be reviewed to make sure all necessary information is included. You will receive a follow-up email with your audition date and time. Please confirm it! If you do not confirm, your audition time will be released.  If you have a conflict with your assigned audition time, it is important to let me or someone in the office know so that I may assist in rescheduling your audition. 

Updated August 14, 2019: Auditions are being held for open positions on September 18-21. Auditions generally take place at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Schoenberg Hall. The timpani and percussion auditions  are traditionally held at USC Schoenfeld Hall (AES) and the concertmaster auditions have been held at The Colburn School.

Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition time to get checked in. It is very important to make sure you allow yourself extra travel time for traffic/weather delays and parking.

Signing in will be determined by the venue. You will be informed of the locations when you receive your audition email.

Auditions are held behind a screen; we accept applicants based solely on their musical ability. When your audition time is about five minutes away, a volunteer will get you from your warm-up room and bring you to an audition proctor who will then accompany you into the audition room. Make sure your instrument is tuned before going in. In order to protect your anonymity, please do not speak once you have entered the room. If you have any questions or concerns during the audition, signal the proctor and ask your concerns quietly. Your questions will be relayed to the Audition Committee seated behind the screen. Should the committee need to ask a question or has a request, you must not answer as in a conversation; all verbal communication will be through the proctor. 

NOTE: Your audition can be about 7-8 minutes long and begins with your solo piece. The panel will cut you off from your solo. It doesn’t mean anything except that they’re ready to move on to the excerpts. Strings: because the auditions are blind, you are not required to follow the bowings in the excerpts. 

You may also be given some instruction regarding what you just played and be asked to play the solo or excerpt again. These situations are all common. You may find that you won’t be asked to play all of the excerpts on the list. Whatever you end up playing, and sometimes it can be short, the committee has heard all they need to hear. Don’t let that throw you. The committee is experienced in the process.

The panel varies depending on your instrument, and is generally made up of current principal musicians from the orchestra, AYS alumni, the Music Director, and professional musicians in the Los Angeles area.  

There have been some instances where the audition panel has asked for a second round for specific instruments and when that happens, the screen is taken down and you are seen by the committee for the second round. 

All auditions are unaccompanied.

Warm-up rooms will be clearly marked at the audition venues.  Upon arrival, you will visit the check-in table and you will be directed to the shared warm-up rooms. Please keep in mind that you may be sharing your warm up space with others.

There has been an increase of applicants over the years. Last season, 383 applications were received and the year before we received 310! 

Due to those graduating and aging out, we will be looking to fill about 35 positions for the 2019/20 season. The Audition Committee will also identify qualified subs from the audition. If needed, there will be a sub list audition date scheduled later in the season.

You will be notified of your audition results by email once all of the audition dates have concluded. Be sure to enter your email correctly on your Audition Application. Email is AYS’s primary mode of communication with students. The new orchestra roster will also be posted on our website. On occasion, the panel has announced results once a group of auditions has finished. 

The length of a Fellowship is up to three consecutive years, with the opportunity to re-enroll twice for a maximum of 9 years in the orchestra. Each fellowship term is 1-3 years (length of term at discretion of musician and orchestra management). The first year is considered probationary. Following that year, you may be asked to re-audition. For disciplinary reasons, or because of substandard performance, any member may be placed on probation or asked to re-audition at the discretion of the Music Director.

Title positions (principal, associate, assistant, concertmaster, etc.) are eligible for one additional term renewal without audition, contingent on the consistent and exemplary execution of their role, for a total possible tenure with the ensemble of 6 years. When a title position is filled through this process, the Music Director may choose to hold auditions for a potential co-chair of that title. If a candidate is successful in the audition for the co-chair, then the two would switch roles between programs throughout the season.

The Music Director, for either disciplinary reasons or due to substandard performance, maintains the authority to require any AYS member to re-audition to continue their term.

Members may choose to re-audition for a better seating assignment without the risk of losing their current seat. However, members who do not re-audition may have their seating changed in the following season. All members are encouraged to re-audition. It is a great professional development opportunity and allows you to become more confident and comfortable managing the audition process. Current members seeking to re-audition for any reason will go through the same application and audition process as non-members. Members who are not returning for the following season must notify the Director of Orchestra Operations at the earliest possible opportunity.

If you miss two or more concerts in one season, for any reason, your position will automatically be open to audition for the following season. You will be required to re-audition for membership in the orchestra.  

About Isabel Thiroux, Director of Orchestra Operations

Isabel played in the viola section of AYS from 2001-2007 and as part of the 40th anniversary, went on tour to Carnegie Hall with AYS. She joined the staff in 2007 as an Administrative Assistant, became Orchestra Manager in 2010, and Director of Orchestra Operations in 2015. This current position entails a variety of activities in support of the musicians, guest artists, the music director and executive director. Isabel was a participant of the League of American Orchestra’s Essentials of Orchestra Management in 2015.

Isabel is a busy freelance musician, performing regularly throughout southern California.