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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I've been accepted into West Chester University's Bachelor of Music Composition program. Thank god. I've been talking about and planning around this for so long that if I had fucked it up, I would have ... I don't know, run away to Alaska or tried crack or something.

I really thought I might die yesterday. It was just one of those days. I had to play Juliet twice in an educational theatre program in Reading, PA, a good 100-minute drive away. I overslept by 20 minutes, and on my way out the door, I realized that I had a 600-word Ethics paper due in the evening about a film I hadn't yet watched (Errol Morris' The Fog of War)

On the way to Reading, I ran into traffic and took a wrong turn, so that instead of arriving at the call time, I was parking my car in the high school's lot five minutes before I was due on stage. With no makeup, no warm-up, no caffeine, and a script only vaguely in my head, I stumbled through the performances. The stress and panic made for some very realistic Juliet-in-distress scenes; i.e. I bawled my eyes out onstage in front of hundreds of giggling teenagers. Twice. It was draining, to say the least.

I sped home, watched The Fog of War, and wrote a paper, only to discover when I arrived at class that the deadline had been pushed back two weeks. I also had to give a presentation about Nike's sweatshops in Vietnam, which went as well as can be expected; I sounded somewhat like Bobcat from the Police Academy movies, only frothier and less coherent.

It was only after coming home from class that I realized that I had spent the entire day before my big audition without practicing a note. Not only that, I was exhausted and had a two-hour drive ahead of me. I packed quickly, loaded up the car, whimpered for about ten minutes with dread, and set off.

I spent the night at a Holiday Inn near the University. At 5:15am, my eyes flew open of their own accord. I didn't feel rested, but a combination of nerves and chemicals (prozac, echinacea) had murdered sleep. I showered, dressed, drank some tea, and tried unsuccessfully to meditate a little. I found a space in a corner of the room just big enough to play the cello and attempted a few scales. Nothing seemed to be working, so I took a quick swig of sherry. Yes, I brought along a bottle of sherry, just in case. It was the only thing in the house.

The auditions at West Chester are pretty hardcore for an undergraduate degree at a non-conservatory.

8:00am - check in

8:40am - introductory speech

9:00am - written theory test (extremely easy)

9:15am - sight-singing (piece of cake)

9:30am - vocal audition (The fact I sang a Mozart concert aria went down very well.)

9:50am - composition interview (This was very intimidating. One of the [gruff, but nice enough] comp/theory professors sat me in his office and asked me variously to talk about myself, play the piano ["Play something. Anything ... Now play some Mozart or Bach."], and recognize chords [I totally missed naming the V9, even though I successfully identified all the individual notes in the chord. D'oh. I knew I should have read through my Harmony textbook last week]. He seemed pleased with me, even though I probably sounded like I was on crack and highly stupid.)

10:15 - piano audition (The auditioner was very nice, but I shook so badly I completely fucked up the piece. By this time the nip of sherry had worn off.)

10:40 - cello audition (More like an introductory lesson than an audition. I think I'm going to like my new teacher.)

11:40 - exit interview

After each of the auditions/tests, I was given a sealed envelope, all of which I took along to the exit interview. There, a man who looks something like Max von Sydow opened them and examined my scores. It's not so much a competitive audition process as a "you must be this tall to ride on the rollercoaster" kind of audition. And I'm tall enough.

I'm glad things went as well as they did. Apparently the Theory/Composition stream is pretty tough to get into; there are only eight students in the current freshman year. The guy before me didn't quite score high enough, and was offered a place in Music Education instead.

Anyway, it's done. I'm getting out of the horrific vortex of shit that is Central Pennsylvania.
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