For Musicians

How to Apply

Applying to the National Music Festival is easy! Just fill out the application form, pay your application fee, and have your recommendation letter(s) sent to info@nationalmusic.us. Be sure to read the guidelines below before applying, especially the specific requirements listed below for your instrument/discipline.

Applications are open for the 2020 season! Early applications will be favorably considered. The reduced-fee deadline expires on February 10; we will continue to accept applications for open sections on a rolling basis until all slots are filled. Watch for posts on this page to learn when sections are closed for the season. 

Download and Print the NMF 2020 Apprentice Poster

To Apply:

  • APPLICATION FORM: Click here to access the application form. Please be sure to have your resume available as a PDF document as you will need to upload it. There is a separate application form for conductors, which can be accessed by clicking here. 
  • APPLICATION FEES: $40 ($75 for conductors). After February 10, application fees will increase to $70 ($125 for conductors). Application fees are not refundable. Click here to pay application fees online.
  • RECORDINGS: Instrumentalists, singers, and conductors will be required to submit a recording or video with their application; recordings should be posted to YouTube or Soundcloud for easy listening/viewing by mentors. Video is optional (except for conductors and trumpet applicants–see below).  If you have any questions about recordings or repertoire, please email info@nationalmusic.us.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS: Each applicant must have one letter of recommendation submitted directly to info@nationalmusic.us no more than one week after submitting their application. (Three personalized recommendation letters are required for conductors.)
  • RETURNING APPLICANTS: Please note that if you have attended the Festival previously and wish to reapply, you do not need to submit recordings or a letter of recommendation. You may submit new recordings if you feel that your playing has changed significantly, but recordings are not required. You do need to fill out the application form and pay the appropriate application fee.


Important Notes: 

  • Applications are evaluated solely on merit.
  • Applications may only be submitted through the online form. The Festival will not respond to applications submitted by post.
  • Participants for the entire duration of the Festival will receive full scholarships plus housing. (Apprentices choosing not to participate in the entire Festival may attend for a $2000 tuition fee. PLEASE DO NOT ASK TO ARRIVE LATE OR TO LEAVE EARLY UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE FULL $2,000 TUITION FEE!
  • Participants must arrive in Chestertown in time for the noon orientation meeting on May 30 and remain until the conclusion of the final concert on June 13. Housing is provided through the morning of June 14. (Conductors arrive by May 26, arts administrators arrive on or around May 20 and depart on or around June 16; housing is provided for the duration).
  • Apprentices are responsible for their own transportation and meals. Many local restaurants will have musician-friendly menus available.  [Emmanuel Church offers free lunches to musicians on weekdays.]
  • Apprentices must be at least 18 years of age or provide a chaperone.

Orchestral Application Requirements (by instrument)

Flute

Two contrasting orchestral excerpts and Mozart, Concerto in G, First Movement: exposition, without accompaniment.

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Oboe

Include a selection of two standard orchestral excerpts of your choice, plus two contrasting solo selections such as movement of a standard concerto or sonata, or a chamber work that showcases the oboe. An etude may be substituted in lieu of any one selections above. Quality is preferred over quantity.

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Clarinet

Three contrasting orchestral excerpts and Mozart Concerto, First Movement: exposition, without accompaniment.

Auditionees may also submit recordings on auxiliary instruments.  Please submit two solo excerpts of your choice on Eb and/or Bass clarinet.  Note that those who play an auxiliary instrument will be given preference. 

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Bassoon

Three of the following four excerpts – Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 4, II, long solo to end; Ravel, Bolero, solo; Mozart, Marriage of Figaro, Overture, measures 1-8 and measures 156-171; Beethoven, Symphony No. 4, IV, fast solo; A solo piece, concerto or sonata movement of applicant’s choice.

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Horn

Solo: 1st movement of either Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 or Mozart Horn Concerti No. 2 or No. 4.

Excerpts: Strauss, “Ein Heldenleben,” Horn 1 – Beginning to measure 17; Shostakovich, “Symphony No. 5,” Mvmt. I, Horn 1 – third measure after Rehearsal No.17 to 1st measure of Rehearsal No. 21; Mendelssohn “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Nocturne, Horn 1 – measures 1 through 34; Wagner, “Siegfried’s Rhine Journey,” Horn 1-Short Call.

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Trumpet

Video recordings only. 

Solo work:

Honegger, Intrada, beginning to Allegro OR

Haydn, Trumpet Concerto, opening exposition

Orchestral Excerpts:

Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition, Opening Promenade

Mahler, Symphony No. 5, opening solo

Stravinsky, Petrushka, Ballerina’s Dance, pick-up to mm. 135-139

Respighi, Pines of Rome, offstage solo

Provide one continuous, unedited video. No separate tracks, do not stop and start the camera between selections.

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Trombone

Mozart – Requiem – Tuba mirum – 2nd trombone solo
Berlioz – Hungarian March – 2nd trombone part (beginning 6 measures before rehearsal 4 through the 2nd measure of rehearsal 5)
Ravel – Bolero – 1st trombone solo (3rd measure of rehearsal 10 to rehearsal 11)
Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries (major only)

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Bass Trombone

Bach – Sarabande from Cello Suite No. 5 (no repeats)
Berlioz – Hungarian March (beginning 6 measures before rehearsal 4 through the 2nd measure of rehearsal 5)
Kodaly – Hary Janos Suite, mvt. 4 (beginning in the 5th measure of the poco meno mosso to the fermata)
Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries (2nd major section only)

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Tuba

Wagner – “Die Meistersinger” (letter J to end)
Berlioz – Hungarian March (beginning 6 measures before rehearsal 4 through the 2nd measure of rehearsal 5)
Prokofiev – Symphony No. 5, mvt. 1 (rehearsal 3 to rehearsal 6)
Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries (2nd major section only)

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Percussion

Include three xylophone excerpts, three snare drum excerpts, two glockenspiel excerpts, three timpani excerpts, one Bach marimba solo.

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Collaborative Piano

Include:
•  1 Solo Work less than 5 minutes (may be a movement from a sonata, a character piece, an etude)
•  2 Art Songs* with singer OR 2 movements* of a chamber work with instrument(s)
*Select works by different composers in contrasting styles, tempi, etc.

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Harp

Two representative etudes (one fast/one slow) OR two contrasting pieces AND two orchestral excerpts.

Please note: The National Music Festival does not have harps available for apprentices to borrow or rent. Harpists must bring a harp to the Festival. Harp apprentices are also asked to bring a car for harp moving, if possible. 

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Violin

First or last movement of a standard concerto including cadenza if applicable, a movement of unaccompanied Bach, and a short piece or etude.

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Viola

Two movements from the Bach Suites (transcribed for viola), a movement of a standard concerto, and two standard orchestral excerpts of contrasting styles.

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Violoncello


Two movements of solo Bach, and one additional substantial example of your playing: EITHER a movement of a concerto, a work for cello & piano (a short work or movement of a sonata), OR a short solo contemporary piece. Concerto and sonata recordings should include piano. Optionally, you may include a movement of chamber music (in addition to solo Bach and one other work. 

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Double Bass

One or two (i.e. minuets) movements from the Bach Suites for Cello, the first movement of a standard concerto, Beethoven Sym.No.5, 3rd movement (Scherzo & Trio), and choose two of the following excerpts: Mozart Sym. No.40, 1st movement theme, etc. (meas.114-138), Brahms Sym.No.1 or No.2 letter E, or Strauss Ein Heldenleben, No. 9.

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Non-Orchestra Program Application Requirements

Conducting Institute

In addition to the completed application, a high-quality video recording of a recent working rehearsal (15-minute maximum, including some spoken direction) and performance (15-minute maximum) viewed from a close, front-view perspective. Links to YouTube videos are preferred. A full orchestra is not required; a small ensemble will suffice. Repertoire on the video should include a variety of styles.  The candidate should also include a short video in which s/he introduces her/himself.

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Arts Administration

You may, optionally, submit up to three work samples, such as press releases, grant applications, etc. If you would like to submit work samples, please email them to info@nationalmusic.us after submitting your application.

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Concert Production

Application form (with attachments) only. There is no application fee for concert production apprenticeships.

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Music Library

Application form only.

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Piano Technology

Application form only.

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Recording Engineering

Application form and sample recordings.

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Voice



At least 2 recordings, one video recording and one audio recording, at least one of which should be an aria. The other selections may come from art song repertoire. Additional recordings are encouraged but not necessary.

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NewBassoon Institute


Information on the 2020 NewBassoon Institute coming soon!
Bassoonists interested in new music, consider applying for the 2019 NewBassoon Institute with Dark in the Song!  Held June 1-8 in Chestertown, in conjunction with NMF, this workshop focuses on contemporary bassoon repertoire and techniques.  Participants, who like NMF musicians receive free lodging, will perform chamber music throughout Chestertown and the surrounding region; applicants may also choose to compete in a performance competition.  NewBassoon Institute faculty from Dark in the
Song, called a “bassoon supergroup” by the American Music Center, include Saxton Rose, Lynn Hileman, Rachael Elliott, and Michael Harley.  For more information and to register, please click on the Institute link above or email Institute Director Michael Harley, mharley@mozart.sc.edu. Click here to pay your tuition for the 2019 NewBassoon Institute. 
Please note: applying for NMF and the NewBassoon Institute are separate processes.  

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