In the spirit of audition season, I thought I’d share with you a story that happened to me several years ago, during the 2007-08 season.
It was a NYSSMA audition (for you Southerners, think Tri-State). I was playing for a private high-school student of one of our vocal professors. I forget what the girl’s name was. We were doing some easy pieces – one of the Italian hits and probably something in English. We’d rehearsed a few times, and I’d been to several of her lessons.
We got into the audition, sang the English piece, everything was fine. Started the Italian – she got through the first section and blanked. So I started vamping. Just looping and looping and looping, over every entrance I could give her. I was waiting for her to sing something – anything – I could come in whenever and wherever. Just pick a spot.
After about 30 seconds of my playing every entrance a hundred times, she turns to me, looks straight at me, and says, “I’m sorry, but you’re playing it wrong.”
I stop dead, and knowing that I can’t slap her or yell at her mid-audition, I say, “Okay… what do you want me to do?”
“I don’t know, but you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t sound like the song. It’s wrong.”
Maybe because you didn’t count, missed your entrance, and don’t actually know what the piano part sounds like.
One of the 3 or 4 adjudicators jumped in and suggested what I was just about to suggest, “Why don’t we take it from here?” indicating the next phrase.
The piece went on smoothly after that. She left without looking at me. As she was leaving, all three judges looked at me and one said, “uh, wait a second.” When they were sure she was gone, they all looked at me and said, “It’s not your fault, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Because she was the one who got off. You did exactly what you should.”
“I know. Thanks.”
I mean, I’ve heard of blaming your accompanist, but really, I think that’s taking it a little too far.