The last time I auditioned for a music degree was when I was sixteen, the day after my high school valedictory. I was valedictorian at my hoity-toity private school in Brisbane, so I was required to make a big speech and hang out all evening pretending to be upset about graduating. I slept for maybe four hours, then rose fatigued and under-practiced to catch a 5:00am flight to Sydney for a 9:00am viola audition at the Sydney Conservatory.
I arrived at the conservatory to discover that my accompanist, organized on the phone the week before, hadn't shown up. Another accompanist agreed to step in and sight-read the pieces I was playing. We didn't get a chance to run through them before the audition.
In the audition room, I realized with shock that the auditioner was none other than the director of the conservatory, Wolfram Christ. Mr. Christ also happens to be the lead violist in the fucking Berlin Philharmonic when he isn't in Sydney. My terror reached new heights. This was compounded when the accompanist took my pieces at approximately double the correct tempo. I think I had an anxiety attack. I vaguely remember one of my pieces falling apart so badly that I was told not to continue.
It was the worst audition of my life, and must rank in the top five worst hours. At the conclusion, Wolfram Christ asked for the name of my teacher, and I'm pretty sure he filed it away with the intention of never accepting any of her students into the conservatory ever. Afterwards, I walked all the way from downtown Sydney to Oxford Street bawling my eyes out. A few months later, I enrolled in med school. A year after that, I dropped out. My viola gathered dust.
It's been nearly ten years, and I'm back where I started, only this time I play the cello, and I'm auditioning for the Bachelor of Music Composition program instead of an intense and competitive practical degree. The audition might end up being a piece of cake, but I'm fairly sure that the memory of my last audition is half the reason I feel like I'm shitting a brick.