Three talented musicians from the U of A participated in this year’s National Youth Orchestra Tour; Taran Plamondon (Horn), Peter Clark (Horn) and Rafael Piesiur (violin). We thought it would be interesting to ask about their experiences over the summer and share some tips for students wanting to audition for the NYO next summer!
What is your favourite thing about participating in the NYO?
Peter: You get to travel to some pretty awesome places throughout the summer. I’ve personally only participated in the Canadian NYO tours, but because we live in such a beautiful country I’ve visited some really unique places. However, the best part has to be the lifelong friendships you create with fellow musicians.
Taran: My favourite part will always be spending time with old friends and making new ones. When you’re with the same people every day for two months it’s impossible to avoid forming meaningful friendships (and the occasional rivalry)! Also, I believe branching out and leaving your hometown is an important step towards a career as a musician; it’s amazing how much travelling you experience with the NYO.
Rafael: I’ve participated in the NYO for the last two years and they have been the best summers of my life! Not only do you meet so many wonderful people, but also the faculty strive to open your eyes (and ears) to new concepts and ideas.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to audition for the NYO next year?
Peter: While preparing for the audition, you should treat it as though it’s an audition for a professional orchestra. Also, playing your audition material for others, especially your teachers, can be a huge help!
Taran: The best thing about the NYO audition is it’s recorded. So, technically, you can redo your audition as many times as you want in order to get it just right. However, you have to remember, if you can repeatedly redo your audition, so can the other candidates. Start practicing your material as soon as you can and leave yourself enough time for recording to ensure you submit your most polished take.
Rafael: The audition process was probably the most stressful part of the entire experience, but it was incredibly valuable because it prepares you for professional orchestra auditions. One tip I have, specifically for the string players; the string faculty at the NYO are particularly attentive towards rhythm, intonation and dynamics. So, while listening to your recordings it will help to pay special attention to these elements.
How do you think participating in the NYO will help with a professional career in music?
Peter: The program really helps you fine tune your instrumental abilities. In fact, if you look at professional Canadian orchestras, you’ll notice a significant number of their members are NYO alumni. It’s up to you how you use the experiences and information to improve after the summer ends, but you acquire a lot of tools while you’re there.
Taran: The connections you make during your time in the NYO are absolutely priceless. I’m already starting to feel the effects of these connections. For instance, thanks to the mentorship and coaching from Gabriel Rutherford (a member of the TSO), I was able to secure a spot at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in the fall. With the right attitude, attending the NYO is a huge first step towards distinguishing yourself in the highly competitive music world.
Rafael: Even though I’m a music lover and an active musician, I’m actually an engineering student at the U of A. However, I believe participating in a variety of high level activities, such as the NYO, makes you a more employable candidate in whatever career path you’re following!
More information about the National Youth Orchestra is available on their website!