Things really ramp up around the month of July as preparations begin in earnest for the application and audition cycle. This begins with recruitment, which requires the Student Services team to work with Artistic Operations and Marketing and Communications to compile, present, and advertise repertoire for the upcoming festival, dates, deadlines, and other useful information. The question of repertoire is especially critical when it comes to the Vocal Institute, since for the singers the auditions double as the casting process for opera productions. Student Services works closely with the faculty, whose job it is to decide what works the prospective fellows are required to play in their auditions. DeVries and Dickinson also use this time to secure the many details of the actual application, audition, and adjudication process (more on that in a moment). Oh, and keep in mind this is all happening while the current Festival is actively underway!!
Each year, the Music Academy receives around 2,000 applications for 139 spots in the Summer School and Festival. The process for screening these applicants varies based on whether the applicant is applying for the Vocal Institute (voice and vocal piano) or as an instrumentalist (orchestral instruments, solo piano, and collaborative piano). Vocal Institute auditions take place in November and December and involve a video pre-screening round and typically live final round, which are all reviewed by a panel of Vocal Institute faculty. Collaborative Piano auditions also take place in the Fall and involve their own panel of Collaborative Piano faculty. Live audition cities for each of these programs have regularly included New York, Chicago, and Santa Barbara.
The Instrumental and Solo Piano Programs audition applications remain open from November through February and each studio is carefully adjudicated by its respective faculty. In recent years, the Music Academy has seen an approximately 50/50 split between live and self-taped instrumental auditions, with over eleven cities represented among recent instrumental live audition tours, spanning not only the United States but also occurring across the pond in London. Auditions have even taken place as far away as Kotor, Montenegro, a sister-city of Santa Barbara! The live auditions are recorded by a team of at least six Academy personnel, including DeVries and Dickinson and several recording artists, who are scattered among the audition cities, most of which overlap as the whirlwind tour across the US and abroad takes place over just a two-week period. All live auditions are then uploaded to the Academy’s online application and audition recording platform. This allows the faculty, who are located around the country and the world, to fairly judge all applicants at once, ensuring equal consideration for both in-person and self-recorded applicants.