Youth Orchestra

Posted In: Young Harpists

  • Member
    Sarah Modene on #167194

    I have been playing the harp for about three-four years, as well as the piano
    for about ten years (I’m a composer for both instruments but mainly piano).
    However, recently I have been pursuing the harp quite seriously (in the range
    of classical pieces) and have been considering my options for putting it into
    action (I’m home-schooled and in my junior year, so I’ll graduate in ’07; also, I
    guess you could say that I’m past intermediate level but not quite in advanced
    because of my handicap, or, my lever harp- the mobility is a major issue!).

    S M on #167195

    This is really funny; I just got on to ask pretty much the same question.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #167196

    You should get the biggest and best harp you can afford, since some repertoire goes right
    down to the low C and up to the high G. You want a harp with a bright sound that can be
    heard over the orchestra. And get a travelling trunk and a harp dolly, in case of touring.
    There are repertoire lists for symphonic orchestras, but they are probably more difficult
    and comprehensive than for most youth orchestras. Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique,
    Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,
    for example, are standards on professional audition lists. Buy the book “The Harp in the
    Orchestra” by Beatrice Schroeder Rose. It is mentioned elsewhere on this list. It has lots of
    excerpts, and how to play them. Also, contact the youth orchestras and ask them about
    their audition requirements.

    unknown-user on #167197

    Dear Sarah,

    My daughter, who will graduate from high school next year, just joined a youth orchestra: the Calgary Youth Orchestra.

    She underwnent the audition process last spring. She had to work very hard at getting her audition pieces to a very high standard. To her delight, she got admitted. As mentioned by others, the best is to contact the orchestra in question, and to coordinate with your teacher as to what and how you should prepare for the audition.

    My daughter auditioned with her Lyon and Healy 85 petite pedal harp. It has a beautiful sound, and she did fine with it! For her orchestra rehearsals, she uses their concert grand. Of course, if you are in the market for a harp and you intend on pursuing it to a higher level, you should get the biggest (best) one you can afford. The pedal harp allows you to play repertoire that the lever harp just cannot accomodate. My daughter really needs more strings on hers now!

    She has gained incredible experience in this amazing full symphonic orchestra! Unlike, for example, violinists, there is not that much opportunity for young harpists to gain experience with orchestras. She has had to learn quite a lot during these months, many things which were taken for granted by the more experienced orchestra musicians.

    She was expected to play quite advanced and difficult repertoir: e.g. Forsyth’s “Atayoskewin”, Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Cappricio Espagnol”, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutchraker Suite” (including the solo cadenza from the Dance of the Flowers!) … She is now working on Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” Overture, and will be playing other pieces like Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5”.

    The musicians get their parts, and are expected to read them on the sport at rehearsals. If possible, it is a good idea to try and obtain the harp part prior to the first rehearsal, in order to mark pedal changes. However, this is not always possible.

    My daughter has increased her technical skills a great deal in order to play this repertoire. She loves the challenge! At first it was quite daunting to her, but she has now adjusted quite well to the pace and the high expectations of her condutor.

    She loves playing with the orchestra, getting to know her istrument better, and those of the other musicians. She also loves to play in concerts, which are frequent, and has acquired quite a a good attitude toward practicing and the sacrifices needed to meet the challenges presented by the orchestra.

    Good luck on your quest to gain admission to a youth orchestra.

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