Alexander Volkov is nervous as he lifts his violin and begins to play at the mock audition. He knows there are members of the NAC Orchestra behind the screen. He also knows that in two days, he’ll be auditioning for real.
“After the mock audition I received advice from several members of the Orchestra. I also spent over two hours with Elaine Kimasko (violinist) covering every excerpt for the real upcoming audition with the Orchestra,” recalls Alexander. “Thanks to the lesson I was able to advance to the second round.”
The opportunity to do a mock audition is one of many benefits Alexander received as one of five young artists selected to take part in the Institute for Orchestral Studies (IOS) this season. The apprenticeship program prepares musicians for orchestral careers. For six weeks, Alexander was mentored by NAC Orchestra musicians and performed in every concert.
“The opportunity raised my bar of performance and work ethic to a whole new level,” says Alexander. “I have a higher and more professional outlook of the responsibilities outlined for any orchestral artist.”
Alexander describes the experience as a “mesmerizing and challenging” one. The apprentices prepared three different programs in one week. “To the seasoned professionals this was nothing new. But to us IOS students, it was a good challenge,” he says. “We managed to play 13 concerts in the six weeks.”
To adapt to the immense workload, Alexander learned a system of efficiency he says he couldn’t have otherwise discovered. He now has a personal standard of preparation. “The program doesn’t just give you a glimpse of performing in a professional orchestra; it drops you straight onto the battlefield,” Alexander explains. “I was always learning and adjusting. The trust of playing in the NAC Orchestra came with a ton of responsibility and it felt great.”
Alexander says it took him less than five minutes of the first rehearsal to realize he wanted to become a member of the NAC Orchestra in the future. Thanks to the experience, which you helped make possible with your support, the young violinist also wants to give other emerging artists opportunities like this one.
“When it becomes my turn, I want to help out in a program like the IOS because the value of what it teaches cannot be mirrored anywhere else in North America,” he says. “It truly is inspiring.”