Saturday, February 25, 2012

CONDUCTOR Q&A: recent questions answered from conductors and ensembles

Here are answers to a few questions recently received from conductors.

Q: DEFINING "RECENT RECORDINGS": The application requests that the recording include "recent" performances. What do you mean by "recent"? Within the last year?
Not necessarily. Recordings made within the last few seasons are perfectly acceptable. We are simply trying to avoid performances or studio sessions that have no (or very little) relationship to the strengths of an organization as it is currently configured, or to a conductor's current level of skill, hence the purposely vague term of "recent."

Q: EXCERPTS OK?: Do the judges prefer full works and/or full movements, or are excerpts from movements acceptable?
The judges prefer full movements, when possible (but when you are considering a multiple-movement piece for the tape, a single movement of the work is fine. You need not, for example, include a full symphony or all of a multiple-movement choral or band work.)

Larger chunks of single movement compositions (tone poems) may be submitted as well, but the judges prefer that a complete section be provided as opposed to a few minutes from the middle. In the case of through-composed works, an excerpt that either starts at the beginning and goes for a certain time, or, alternately, one that starts in the middle and goes to the end is preferred, (The more of the "arc" of the performance that can be provided, is, in general, better for adjudication purposes.) 

These are guidelines only. You will not be disqualified if your tape only includes excerpts.

Q: OLD RECORDINGS WHERE  I'M NO LONGER EMPLOYED?: I'm planning to apply for the conducting prize. May I include in my application performances with ensembles I no longer conduct?
Absolutely.  There is no restriction.

Yes. Provide the judges with your best available materials, regardless of source.

Q: WHICH ENSEMBLE TO LIST?: I currently conduct several ensembles and wonder which one I should list on the application form.
If you currently lead more than one ensemble, list the "biggest" or most "important" job on the application form. You can of course include on the recording selections from different ensembles to highlight your conducting skills. 

If, in addition to the conducting prize, you are also applying in the ensemble Performance category, all the recordings for that application must be of the named group, although they can be from multiple years.

Q: APPLYING AGAIN: I applied (or won) with my ensemble in a previous season. May I apply again?
Yes. There is no restriction against ensembles or conductors applying again.

Q: SMALLER ENSEMBLES/SCHOOLS: I am very proud of my ensemble, but I am based in a smaller school and/or community. I don't think we would match up well against a big university with a graduate school or a community organization in a larger city. Should I apply?
Absolutely. The judges do take into account the size and "kind" of ensemble and where it is located, so I would not hesitate, especially since we never know until the competition closes exactly who all the contestants are. We are eager for variety, and to uncover those otherwise "hidden" gems of quality worthy of more attention and praise.

Also, runners-up and finalists tell us they have gotten real value from those distinctions, even if they did not win the top-place finish, and of course, all contestants from finalists on up receive a written evaluation, which participants tell us they have found positive, useful and informative. 

We are still a young competition and have as a goal a sincere desire to highlight excellent work in all circumstances throughout the country, not just at the largest institutions. 

Remember that the list of winners does not always tell the whole story. If you search the blog archives for the announcement of finalists and semi-finalists in recent competitions, you will get a better sense of who the candidates were who were advanced. Alternately, we can email a specific list or link to you. Just write to us at and we will forward what you would like to see.

More questions? Email We are happy to help.

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