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Graduate Music Audition Requirements

For information about our different graduate programs, please view the Graduate Music Academic Requirements.

 Brass

Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Bass Trombone, Tuba

Instrumental auditions must be performed without accompaniment.

Prepare two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire and three (3) orchestral excerpts.  For your solo repertoire, you may choose from the suggested pieces below or make your own choices at a similar level of difficulty.  We ask that you play the listed excerpts.  In addition, please prepare all major and minor (natural, melodic and harmonic) scales and arpeggios and be prepared to sight-read. 

If you are submitting a recorded audition, please make sure that there is no accompaniment, and that the recording has not been edited and does not contain reverb. Recorded auditions should also include one major and three minor scales (one each: natural, melodic and harmonic) and corresponding arpeggios. For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

Trumpet

Suggested Repertoire:

  • Haydn: Concerto
  • Hindemith: Sonata

Orchestral Excerpts:

  • Beethoven: Leonore (No. 2 and No. 3)
  • Stravinsky: Petrushka (Ballerina’s Dance)
  • Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

French Horn

Suggested Repertoire:

  • Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 2, 3 or 4
  • Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1 or 2
  • Gliere: Horn Concerto

Orchestral Excerpts:

  • Strauss: Opening solo from Til Eulenspiegel
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5, 2nd Movement solo
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5, 1st Movement, Horn 1, Rehearsal 17-21

Trombone

Suggested Repertoire:

  • Martin: Ballade
  • Milhaud: Concerto d’Hiver
  • Tomasi: Concerto

Orchestral Excerpts:

  • Mozart: Tuba Mirum
  • Ravel: Bolero
  • Berlioz: Hungarian March

Bass Trombone

Suggested Repertoire

  • Ewazen: Concerto
  • T.R. George: Concerto

Orchestral Excerpts:

  • Beethoven: Symphony no. 9
  • Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
  • Wagner: The Ride of the Valkyries

Tuba

Suggested Repertoire:

  • Hindemith: Sonata
  • Vaughan Williams: Concerto

Orchestral Excerpts:

  • Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries
  • Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5
  • Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Recorded audition information.

Choral Conducting

Pre-screen required.

Applicants must submit a pre-screening recording by the December 1 application deadline. All recorded auditions must be submitted online via DecisionDesk. You will need to register by clicking the link above and pay a $10 fee to submit your materials by December 1. For more information, please click here

The pre-screen video and supporting materials must contain the following:

  • A 15-20 minute video recording of footage from a rehearsal and a performance. Note: The video should be from the perspective of the choir and show the conductor's face. A successful applicant should provide video that shows rehearsal technique as well as performance conducting. Clips need not include an entire piece of work.
  • A performance resume or curriculum vitae.
  • A complete repertoire list of works conducted and/or studied.
  • Two letters of recommendation from artists/teachers who can most fully discuss your potential in the field of choral conducting.
  • A written self-assessment of piano skills, vocal skills, and experience with languages and sung diction (Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc.).
  • An analysis of a short choral work equivalent to a movement from a Brahms motet or Bach cantata from the applicant's repertoire. Note: the analysis should include a chart of the work's form, harmonic language, key areas, etc.

Applicants may be invited to audition and interview at The Boston Conservatory based on an evaluation of the materials submitted above, as well as submission of a complete application. During auditions, applicants will be asked to:

  • Rehearse with The Boston Conservatory Chorale during which the applicant should expect to:
    • Conduct a brief warm-up.
    • Conduct a complete work or movement from a larger work, as assigned by Dr. Case, Director of Choral Activities at The Boston Conservatory, which the 50-voice Conservatory Chorale is preparing for its spring performance. 
    • Introduce a work or an excerpt from a larger work of the applicant’s choosing, in consultation with Dr. Case.
  • Interview with Choral faculty, during which the applicant will:
    • Sing a prepared solo at the level of an Italian art song (a pianist will be provided).
    • Demonstrate piano skills by playing a prepared piece of your choosing at the level of a two-part Bach Invention.
    • Play open score (SATB) at the level of a Bach chorale.
    • Aurally identify intervals, scales, triads, and harmonic progressions.
    • You may also perform on your major instrument if you would like to.          
  • Applicants will be invited to observe classes and rehearsals, as well as interact with current graduate and undergraduate students.                                                                                                                        

Collaborative Piano

Pre-screen required.

All collaborative piano applicants must submit a pre-screen recording (video required) by December 1. All recorded auditions must be submitted online via DecisionDesk. You will need to register by clicking the link above and pay a $10 fee to submit your materials by the deadline. For more information, please click here

Candidates for the collaborative piano masters program must have a bachelor’s degree, language proficiency in Italian, German or French,  and must be prepared to perform the following for their audition. For the pre-screening video, please record the following works with a musician of your choosing.

General Curriculum

  • Piece(s) for solo piano (or section of a larger work) totaling about 10 minutes in length. 
  • Sonata in A major for violin and piano of Cesar Frank, movements one and two, to be performed with a violinist provided by the Conservatory
  • The following songs, to be performed (in the original key) with a singer provided by the Conservatory:
    • Debussy: Extase from Ariettes Oubliees
    • Schubert: Ganymede
    • Strauss: Allerseelen
  • Sight reading

Opera Emphasis Curriculum

  • Puccini’s La Boheme Opening through 5th bar after Rehearsal #8
  • “Temerari….Come scoglio” from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. Recitative and Aria required.
  • "Here I Stand" from Act I of The Rake's Progress by Stravinsky

Candidates playing the opera excerpts will be asked to play with or without a conductor. The candidate should be prepared to speak the text in rhythm, correct mistakes possibly made by the singers, and have knowledge of the orchestration.

  • The following songs, to be performed (in the original key) with a singer provided by the Conservatory:
    • Debussy: Extase from Ariettes Oubliees
    • Schubert: Ganymede
    • Strauss: Allerseelen
  • Sight reading

Note: No solo piece required for those applying for the opera curriculum

 

Composition

Pre-screen required.

  • Applicants to the MM in Composition or the PSC in Composition should submit a portfolio of between three and six works (no more), at least one of which must be for large ensemble (over 10 players), and at least two of which were written in the last two years.
  • Scores should be legibly notated (by hand or by computer).
  • Recordings of your work are encouraged.
  • Be sure that there is an accompanying score for each submitted recording.
  • Write a short essay describing your musical influences and enthusiasms. Reference three modern concert works that have made an impact on you, and say why. The first of these three works should have been written between 1930 and 1960; the second written between 1960 and 1990; and the third written between 1990 and 2014.
    (Note: This is separate from the writing sample about your interest in the Boston Conservatory, in the online application.)
  • Applicants may be asked to interview, in which case an in-person interview is required.

All of the above pre-screen materials must be submitted online via DecisionDesk. Register and upload your materials to DecisionDesk by December 1. The submission fee is $10. For more information, please click here.

Pre-screen materials sent via mail will not be accepted, and you will be asked to submit online.

 

Contemporary Music

Open to all instruments and voice. Applicants to the MM in Contemporary Music Performance should prepare three complete works.

  1. One standard work composed before 1900 that demonstrates technical and musical proficiency
  2. One 20th-century work from the standard repertoire, such as Berio’s Sequenzas, Carter, Boulez, Schoenberg, Berg, Ligeti, Stravinsky, etc.
  3. One work composed since 2000 -- This work may be written by the performer, by a student or colleague or by an established composer. This work may include electronics and may incorporate improvisation

Please provide at least two copies of the scores for the audition panel. Photocopies are permitted.

Harp

Instrumental auditions must be performed without accompaniment.

  • An étude or technical study;
  • Two single-movement pieces of contrasting mood;
  • One orchestral excerpt and one orchestral cadenza.

Recorded audition information.

Marimba

Instrumental auditions should be performed without accompaniment (although playback of electronics on CD or mp3 player is acceptable).

On marimba, perform three works of contrasting styles totaling a minimum of 20 minutes. At least two of these must utilize four mallets; one or two must have been composed since 1970. Adaptations by the applicant are welcome; creativity in repertoire selection is encouraged. For suggestions, see "Recommended Solos" here.

Applicants may be asked to sight-read.

Recorded audition information.

Music Education

Music Education is part of the Conservatory College. Please view the audition requirements here

Orchestral Conducting

Pre-screen required.

All Orchestral Conducting applicants must submit a pre-screen recording by December 1.  All recorded auditions must be submitted online via DecisionDesk. You will need to register by clicking the link above and pay a $10 fee to submit your materials by the deadline. For more information, please click here

The pre-screen must contain the following:

  • A resumé highlighting the applicant’s performing, conducting and educational experience;
  • A repertoire list of compositions conducted in performance and/or rehearsal;
  • Two artistic letters of recommendation from teachers or faculty who have observed the applicant conducting;
  • A 30-minute video of the applicant conducting any instrumental ensemble in rehearsal—any repertoire. The recording camera should be facing the conductor;
  • A 15-minute audio recording of the applicant performing recently prepared repertoire on the applicant’s primary instrument/voice.

Applicants may be invited to audition and interview at The Boston Conservatory based on an evaluation of the materials submitted above, as well as submission of a complete application. During auditions, applicants will be asked to:

  • Conduct The Boston Conservatory Conductor's Orchestra in repertoire the orchestra is currently preparing.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in orchestration, score analysis, sight singing, ear training and dictation, repertoire and standard terminology in English, French and Italian.

Percussion

Instrumental auditions should be performed without accompaniment (although playback of electronics on CD or mp3 player is acceptable).

  1. Graduate applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the areas described below.
  2. In addition, graduate applicants must prepare two (2) standard orchestral excerpts each for snare drum, timpani, and xylophone. 
  3. Graduate applicants may be asked to sight-read on the instruments below.

You are encouraged to program creatively so as to represent your skills well, and also demonstrate something unique about yourself as a musician.

Snare Drum:

Perform both of the following, totaling about four minutes:

  • Concert étude. Suggested composers: Délécluse, Cirone, Aleo, Peters.
  • Rudimental solo. Suggested composers: Pratt, Tompkins, Wilcoxon.

Mallets (xylophone, marimba, vibraphone—your choice)

Perform both of the following, totaling at least four minutes:

Note: For two-mallet and/or four-mallet solo, creative adaptations of any other composers' works are most welcome. In general, pieces with tempo fluctuations and a variety of rhythms and characters are preferred over perpetual motion pieces. 

Timpani

Perform the following, totaling about three minutes:

  • Solo piece for four drums, about three minutes in duration. Suggested composers: Woud, Hochrainer, Firth, Délécluse, Lepak, Macarez, Carter.

Note: Etudes that demonstrate standard orchestral timpani musicianship (e.g., Woud or Hochrainer etudes) are preferred over Carter solos.

Recorded audition information.

Piano

Applicants must prepare ALL of the following audition requirements. Applicants with incomplete audition repertoire will not be accepted. 

  • Baroque—a prelude and fugue from the Bach Well-Tempered Clavier or an equivalent Baroque work;
  • Classical—a complete sonata in traditional form, or comparable work; (i.e., Beethoven “Eroica” Variations)
  • Romantic—a major work of the applicant’s choice;
  • 20th Century—a work by a major composer, such as Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Copland, lves, Schoenberg or Messiaen.

All works are to be performed from memory.

Note: All recorded auditions must be in video format. Audio recordings will not be accepted. There must be a visual representation of the pianist in order to be considered for admission. 

Recorded audition information.

Strings

Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass

You may perform your audition with piano accompaniment, but it is not required. The Boston Conservatory will not provide accompanists for the audition. If you wish to play with piano, you must provide the accompanist. A piano will be available in the audition. For help finding accompanists, please contact the String Department Chair, Mr. Andrew Mark.

  • An etude or short virtuosic work that best demonstrates your ability to shift freely around the whole range of the instrument with good control of bowing articulation
  • Two movements of unaccompanied Bach
  • A complete first or last movement of a standard concerto
  • A work of the applicant’s choice (a 20th century work is recommended)
  • Prepare a melodic and a harmonic minor scale of your choice in 3-4 octaves performed with a minimum of 4 notes slurred per bow, plus the corresponding arpeggios. The arpeggio cycle of Flesch or Galamian is preferred and should be performed 3 notes slurred to a bow.
  • There will be sight-reading at the live audition.

Recorded audition information.

 

Vocal Pedagogy

Pre-screen required.

All Vocal Pedagogy applicants require the submission of a pre-screen recording (audio only) by the December 1 application deadline.

The required method for submitting your recording is through DecisionDesk.  You will need to register and submit your pre-screen by December 1.  The submission fee is $10.  CDs or DVDs are not permitted.   For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

This pre-screen recording must be accompanied, audio only, and should include representative pieces which fulfill the audition requirements (below). They do not have to be the repertoire you plan to sing for your audition. All works are to be performed from memory. All Vocal Pedagogy applicants must audition live in Boston, and an accompanist will be provided.

Applicants must be prepared to perform all of the following:

  • An Italian art song
  • An art song in either French or German
  • An art song in English (not a translation)
  • Optional: an aria from an opera or oratorio
  • Optional: a selection from the classical or contemporary musical theater genre

If invited to a live audition, each applicant will have a phone interview with Director Kevin Wilson and either the Chair of Voice and Opera or a designated member of the Voice Faculty prior to the singing audition.

Note: Recorded auditions are NOT accepted. All Vocal Pedagogy applicants must audition live in Boston.

Voice

Pre-screen required.

All voice applicants require the submission of a pre-screen recording (audio or video; video preferred) by the December 1 application deadline.

The required method for submitting your recording is through DecisionDesk. You will need to register and submit your pre-screen by December 1.  The submission fee is $10.  CDs or DVDs are not permitted.   For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

This pre-screen recording must be accompanied, audio only, and should include representative pieces which fulfill the audition requirements (below). This does not have to be the same repertoire you plan to sing for your audition.

All works are to be performed from memory. An accompanist is provided for all voice auditions at Boston Conservatory.

Applicants must be prepared to perform all of the following:

  • An Italian art song
  • An art song in German
  • An art song in French
  • An art song in English (not in translation)
  • Optional: an aria from an opera or oratorio

 Recorded audition information.

Opera

 Pre-screen required.

All Opera applicants require the submission of a pre-screen recording (audio or video; video preferred) by the December 1 application deadline.

The required method for submitting your recording is through DecisionDesk. You will need to register and submit your pre-screen by December 1.  The submission fee is $10.  CDs or DVDs are not permitted.   For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

This pre-screen recording must be accompanied, audio only, and should include representative pieces which fulfill the audition requirements (below). This does not have to be the same repertoire you plan to sing for your audition.

All works are to be performed from memory. An accompanist is provided for all voice auditions at Boston Conservatory.

 Applicants must be prepared to perform all of the following:

Three arias in contrasting style and language:

  • one in Italian
  • German or French must be represented in your aria selections
  • optional inclusion of an oratorio aria

Three art songs: 

  • one in English (not in translation)
  • two in languages of your choice

Note: Recorded auditions are NOT accepted. All Opera applicants must audition live in Boston.

 

Woodwinds

Flute/optional Piccolo, Oboe/optional English Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone

  • For the Auxiliary Instrument Specialization program requirements, please click here
  • For the Multi-Woodwind program requirements, please click here

Note: Instrumental auditions must be performed without accompaniment. If you are submitting a recorded audition, please make sure that there is no accompaniment, and that the recording has not been edited and does not contain reverb. For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

Flute

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Prokofiev Sonata, Poulenc Sonata, Mozart Concerto)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Beethoven: Leonore Overture, Brahms: 4th Symphony, Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scherzo)

Optional Piccolo

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Vivaldi Piccolo Concerto)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Rossini: Semiramide Overture)

Oboe

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto, Vaughan-Williams Concerto, Ferling Études, Barrett Étude)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra, Beethoven: 3rd Symphony, Rossini: La Scala di Seta Overture)

Optional English Horn

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Donizetti Concertino)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Berlioz Roman: Carnival Overture, Dvôrák: New World Symphony, Largo; Debussy: Nocturnes, Fetes)

Clarinet

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto, Weber: either Concerto)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scherzo; Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, Second movement)

Bassoon

  • Two movements of contrasting nature from the solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Beethoven: 4th Symphony, Strauss: Don Juan, Stravinsky: Rite of Spring)

Saxophone

  • A movement from the standard concerto repertoire
  • A movement from the standard sonata repertoire
  • A work of the applicant’s choice (new music or transcription)
  • Two orchestral excerpts (e.g. Milhaud: Creation of the World, Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition)
    • available in “The Orchestral Saxophonist”, volumes 1 and 2, published by RonCorp, Cherry Hill, NJ

 Recorded audition information.

 

Woodwinds with Auxiliary Instrument Specialization

Students interested in applying for graduate level programs in woodwinds now have the option of formally declaring an auxiliary instrument specialization. The core curriculum for these specializations is nearly identical in structure to other graduate level programs in woodwinds. Accepted students who declare auxiliary instrument specializations will note the specialized work in the applied area (private lessons, juries, and recitals), large ensembles (with casting priority on the specialized instrument), and the possibility of Chamber Music assignments. Applicants who wish to be considered for the specializations should adhere to the specific audition requirements below.

Flute with Piccolo Specialization

Flute

  • Two contrasting movements of your choice from the standard solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerti, Prokofiev Sonata, Poulenc Sonata, Bach Sonatas or Partita)

Piccolo

  •  Any Vivaldi Piccolo Concerto: one slow and one fast movement
  •  Four orchestral excerpts
    • Your choice of Opera Overture by Rossini (e.g. La Gazza Ladra, La Scala di Seta Overture, Semiramide Overture
    • Your choice of Shostakovich Symphony 6, 8, or 10
    • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4
    • Berlioz - "Dance of the Sprites" from Damnation of Faust

Oboe with English Horn Specialization

Oboe

  • Two contrasting movements of your choice from the standard solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto, Vaughn-Williams Concerto, Strauss Concerto)

English Horn

  • One of the following solo works
    • J.S. Bach - Cantata #1, the Aria "Wie schön leuchtet"
    • Donizetti - Concertino for English horn
  • Three orchestral excerpts
    • Berlioz - Roman Carnival Overture - all the passages from the Andante Sostenuto section
    • Debussy - Nocturnes Movt. 2 (Fêtes) - the first passage and figures 2-4 and 14-18
    • Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez – Adagio

 Clarinet with Bass Clarinet Specialization

Clarinet

  • Two contrasting movements of your choice from the standard solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto, Weber Concerti, Nielsen Concerto)

Bass Clarinet

  • One movement of a J.S. Bach Cello Suite (original or transposed keys)
  • One contemporary solo piece of your choice (e.g. Elliott Carter- Steep Steps, Loevendie - Duo, Isang Yun - Monologue)
  • Your choice of TWO of the following orchestral excerpts
    • Ravel - La Valse
    • Stravinsky – TheRite of Spring
    • Grofé - Grand Canyon Suite
    • Shostakovich - Violin Concerto
    • Ravel - Daphnis & Chloé Suite No.2

Bassoon with Contrabassoon Specialization

Bassoon

  • Two contrasting movements of your choice from the standard solo repertoire (e.g. Mozart Concerto, Weber Concerto, Tansman Sonata)

Contrabassoon

  • Complete orchestral parts for the following works:
    • Ravel - Mother Goose Suite
    • Ravel - Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
    • Brahms - Symphony No. 1
    • Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5

Recorded audition information.

 

Multiple Woodwind

Pre-screen required.

All multi-woodwind applicants must submit a pre-screen recording by December 1. The required method for submitting your recording is through DecisionDesk. You will need to register and submit your pre-screen by the deadline.  The submission fee is $10.  CDs or DVDs are not permitted.   For more information about submitting recorded auditions, please click here.

The recording should represent ability on three different woodwind family instruments (i.e. no multi-clarinets, no multi-saxes). For the applicant’s primary instrument, the applicant should prepare two contrasting movements from a standard repertoire sonata or concerto. For each secondary instrument presented, the applicant should prepare a piece which demonstrates current levels of technical and musical proficiency.  Each recording should supply 5-7 minutes of music for each instrument without piano accompaniment.

Selected applicants will be invited to attend a live audition at The Boston Conservatory in February. The audition repertoire requirements for the live audition remain the same as the pre-screen recording. Scales and/or sight reading may be requested. Each applicant must be accepted on all three instruments by faculty in order to gain acceptance to the Multi-Woodwind Graduate program.

Note: Please make sure that on the pre-screen recording there is no accompaniment and that the recording has not been edited and does not contain reverb.

Recorded audition information.

 

Artist Diploma 

Pre-screen required.

Artist Diploma applicants are required to submit a pre-screen portfolio in the form of a comprehensive press kit and video recording, in addition to a submitted application by December 1. Qualified applicants are expected to be actively engaged in a professional career and have demonstrated success through concert programs, reviews, orchestral employment, and future engagements or projects. Applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree to be considered, and based on the pre-screen may be invited to a live audition in Boston.

Pre-screen portfolio/press kit must include the following:

  • Copies of concert programs (Note: Please make sure you only send copies, as we cannot return originals.)
  • A complete repertoire list
  • Four letters of recommendation
  • An artistic resume detailing your career and study to date, and a one-page essay describing your reasons and goals for pursuing an Artist Diploma at The Boston Conservatory
  • A pre-screen audition recording (video preferred): 20 minutes of contrasting material that demonstrate a high level of musical and technical artistry

Our preferred method of receiving your materials is online via DecisionDesk. Please register and submit your materials by December 1. More details about recorded auditions can be found here.

You may choose to mail your press-kit and recordings to this address:

Boston Conservatory
Admissions Office
31 Hemenway St.
Boston, MA 02115
USA

The deadline for all Artist Diploma applications and supporting materials is December 1.

Based on the review of the recording, applicants may be invited to a live audition at The Boston Conservatory. Those invited to audition for the Artist Diploma Program must prepare a full-length recital program, including a concerto. Accompanists are required for all Artist Diploma Program auditions, and are not provided by The Boston Conservatory.

 

Recorded Auditions

Our required method of receiving audition recordings and pre-screens is online through DecisionDesk. Composition applicants may choose to mail their portfolios to the Admissions Office.

For more information about recorded auditions, please click here.

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