By Monia Estima, Senior Assistant Director for Music Admissions
Actually, one doesn’t need to listen all that closely during audition week to hear them; just cruise anywhere through Juilliard (the stairwells! the bathrooms!) and you’ll be assailed by unearthly vocalises best left to the imagination.
It’s Mónia Estima once more, taking a bit of a break in the week before music auditions to muse on the curious weather we experience every year around this time. By weather, I mean the mood about the place as approximately 1,500 dance and music applicants descend upon us late February/early March.
Every morning during auditions I grab my latte, my walkie-talkie, and my building maps and pound the floors, to ensure that the music audition rooms are ready to go. I pass through the lobby where dancers stretch out on the floor. Orchestral musicians either flex their fingers, do lip-trills, or soak their reeds. Singers guzzle their room-temperature bottled water, composers pore intently over their scores. Parents settle in for the duration, awaiting their children’s fates. Waves of emotion surge and crest; they’re palpable. Hope, excitement, anticipation, even dread riot through the lobby and, as overwhelming as it can sometimes feel, it’s beautiful. Here are young people of ambition, determined to take their dreams as far as they can. It takes a certain fortitude to endure the uncertainty inherent in the pursuit of such passions, a chutzpah that not everyone possesses. And seeing you all prepare to take on what may be the first serious challenge in your professional careers touches me more than I can express. (You know, without getting all sappy and whatnot.)
Coursing through all of the above is a current of awe. For many of you who are auditioning, it will be the first time you step foot inside Juilliard. Just the name of the place can prove daunting for some. We know how much more unnerving it can be to actually walk through the halls of history, knowing that “The Greats” once trod the same floors. But Juilliard is more than a dusty testament to legendary figures in the arts! It is a thriving, bustling body of energy, comprised of flesh-and-blood people who felt the same nerves you will when you stand before the faculty at your audition. At some point, they too were awe-struck, they too wondered if they could make it at Juilliard. So please try to relax: you’re in excellent company!
By the late afternoon a new front comes in from the north, known as fatigue. It’s felt by applicants who are wrung out from playing or dancing their hearts out, by parents whose anxiety for their children has worn them down, and by some faculty whose departments hear more than 40 hours of auditions (!). My Admissions colleagues and I too begin to suffer from shell shock-bear in mind that, during auditions, we clock in at 8am and often don’t leave until 8pm or later. So around 4:30 the vocalizing heard throughout the building is the zombie-like chant: “…neeed…mooore…coffeee!” (And in case you missed the not-so-subtle hints in my previous blog, we really dig the Starbucks in Admissions. Just sayin’.)
But happily, the final forecast calls for exhilaration. You’ve done it! It’s over! In Homer Simpson style, applicants shout joyous, “Woo-hoos!” on their way out the door. (OK, I admit it-I’m doing that too.) ;-)
*The title for this blog was nicked from the Duran Duran song “Union of the Snake.”