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New York String Orchestra: A View from the Inside

On December 24 and 28, New York String Orchestra, comprising young musicians-in-training from around the country, performs its now-traditional pair of holiday concerts at Carnegie Hall. Over the next couple of weeks, Nora Scheller, a violinist from Minnesota, will be sharing with us her experiences in the orchestra. Today she recounts how she auditioned for the 2010 New York String Orchestra Seminar and her reaction at being selected.

When I flew to Chicago for my audition, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Not that I wasn't excited to be there; I was quite pleased to have passed the tape round and excited for the actual audition itself. And that's not to mention Chicago, of course! Never having been there before, I found the historic downtown district to be pleasantly alive with personality and character, its history sprawled out in the various types of architecture like a map for ones eye to read.

The reason I didn't know what to expect was because the program I was auditioning for was NYSOS, the New York String Orchestra Seminar. That's it, in a nutshell—NYSOS, the orchestra program I'd grown up hearing about, the participating musicians that I had admired, the faculty members that I had idolized—that's the program I was auditioning for. I didn't know whether or not I would be accepted, considering that most of the musicians who are accepted are enrolled in some of America's best music schools, and I'm still in high school. Given that, I had decided just to have fun, to enjoy my audition and the music as fully as I could. I think that helped to take some of the pressure off, actually, which is what allowed me to fully enjoy the music and performance.

Maybe that's why the audition committee liked me—because I really did enjoy it. I loved every note that I was playing; I tried to fill every single one with the happiness that I felt, and to let my musicality take reign. I think I must have succeeded, as I felt fairly happy and satisfied with my performance afterward.

I flew home that evening not knowing what to expect, but happy with the fact that I had played a satisfyingly good audition. And so, you can imagine how surprised and pleased I was when I got my invitation letter. I actually remember jumping up and down and giggling for about five minutes straight, incoherent and impervious to the many questions my parents were throwing at me; what I was so happy about, for instance. When I told my mom I'd been accepted, she started jumping up and down and shrieking, too! I think that might be what knocked some sense back into me, seeing my mother exhibit the same behavior I had been exhibiting for the past five minutes.

Anyway, being accepted into NYSOS is a huge honor for me, one that I'm not sure I can fully express with words. I'm very excited to be traveling to New York for the amazing opportunity to perform in Carnegie Hall (twice!) with such an amazing group of musicians, and, of course, for the incredible faculty members! Not only will we be coached by such amazing artists and teachers as Ida Kavafian, Michael Tree, and Peter Wiley, but our conductor is Jaime Laredo, a legend of the musical world! To be considered an equal to the other musicians participating in the program, to have the wonderful opportunities that we will have, is a huge honor for me, one that I am truly grateful and very excited for! And now, on to learning the NYSOS 2010 repertoire! So, if you please, excuse me while I go—you guessed it—practice.

—Nora Scheller

See Nora and the full orchestra perform a program of Mozart and Mendelssohn on December 24, and Barber, Brahms, and Beethoven on December 28.

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