Auditioning a capella groups
  • At my parish, we are founding a professional schola (in addition to the parish choir) and will be holding auditions in August.

    Web page:

    I am interested in your thoughts, tips, and don't-do-this-because-.... in regards to auditioning members. The group is a cappella, singing ancient-to-Kwasniewski motets. Seeking 4 members to make it SATB, until a year from now when we will expand.

  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    Wow. This is wonderful.

    I don't have any experience with this kind of ensemble except that I sang in a similar group a while ago. But if I may, I would suggest that, all things being equal, preference will be given to Catholics. I'm suggesting this because, although it will be a "performance," it is more than that, in that it is the Mass. I suppose many Catholics would not understand this either, but perhaps I would make the singer's love of and approach to the Mass part of the interview if you have such opportunity.

    During the vocal audition, could you hire/ask an SATB group to help for the day? This way each singer could sing as part of a quartet. As you probably know, singing solos is very different from singing in a group and someone who is less of a concert singer, may in fact, be a better fit in a schola. I would also have them prepare two pieces to sing with the quartet, if you can have one for the day, as well as cantor a psalm or chant a proper.
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,870
    Read, read, read. Throw at them any kind of music you are likely to do, in any format (Mensurstriche, 3/1, whatever) you are likely to use. If they can't read, they're useless to you. If you want to be nice and have time, prep some "music minus one" MIDI files and have them read to that. You might let them slide on the odder formats, figuring they'll pick it up. But don't take a singer who can't tell a 4th from a 5th.

    Have them sing without accompaniment, to check intonation and their ability to maintain a tempo.

    Check their dynamic range...maybe not so much a classic messa da voce (comparatively easy) , but have them sing a familiar song, starting from ppp, going gradually to fff and back down.
  • Thank you! These are good ideas.