Audition FAQ

By Isabel Thiroux, Director of Orchestra Operations, AYS Alumnus (updated 5/10/18)

Do I have to be a student in order to audition and play with AYS?
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, 2018. 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. 

What will happen after I submit my application?
You will receive a confirmation email that your application has been received. Your application will be reviewed to make sure all necessary information is included. You will then receive a follow-up email with your audition date and time by Friday, August 10.  Please confirm it! If you do not reply to confirm, your audition time will be reassigned.  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.

When and where are the auditions held?
All auditions for new and returning students are held on various dates throughout late August – mid September. Most auditions will take place at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Schoenberg Hall, Orchestra Room 1343. 

How and where do I sign in when I arrive?
Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled audition time. It is very important to make sure you allow yourself extra travel time and look out for any possible traffic/weather delays.

Signing in will be determined by the venue. Most auditions will take place at UCLA and some may take place at USC and Colburn. You will be informed of the locations when you receive your audition email. 

What is the audition like? What will I play, who will I play for, and for how long?
Auditions will be 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. In order to protect your anonymity, please do not speak once you have entered the room. When you are ready to begin, the proctor will signal to the Audition Committee that you are ready to begin. The Committee will take you through the process. If you have any questions or concerns during the audition, signal the proctor and ask about your concerns quietly. Your questions will be relayed to the Audition Committee seated behind a 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. 

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

You will first play your prepared solo piece followed by the audition excerpts. Please be prepared to play all required repertoire. 

Your audition will be about 8 minutes long. During your audition, you may be stopped by the panel and asked to go on to another excerpt. 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. All auditions are unaccompanied.

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 of auditions.

Will I have a time and a place to warm up?
Warm-up rooms will be clearly marked at the audition venues.  Upon arrival, you will visit the check-in table and we will direct you to the shared warm-up rooms. Please keep in mind that you may be sharing your warm up space with others.

How many people are applying? And how many will get in?
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 30 positions for the 2018/19 season. The Audition Committee will also identify qualified subs from the audition.

How and when will I hear from you about the results?
All audition results will be announced at the conclusion of the audition dates via email. 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. 

If AYS offers me a fellowship, how long is the fellowship for?
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 of 1-3 years (length of term at discretion of musician and orchestra management). This is a new policy as of the 2017/18 season. 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.

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.

Musicians who have previously been members, are now eligible for up to 2 fellowship terms.  

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 October 2015. This current position entails a variety of activities in support of the orchestra’s music director and executive director.

Under Isabel’s leadership, AYS developed a Musician’s Committee in the 2014/15 season to advance the education of and activities developing “musician citizenship,” as well as leadership skills within the orchestra and to facilitate more in-depth communication between orchestra members and administration/leadership. She also spearheaded the creation of a group that meets annually, consisting of all Orchestra Managers from major youth orchestras and schools in Los Angeles, to coordinate the scheduling of concerts in advance so there is as little conflict as possible for our many shared musicians. 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.