TFC Auditions

The Boston Symphony Orchestra invites applicants to audition for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

BSO Choral Director and Tanglewood Festival Chorus Conductor James Burton will be hearing auditions on Monday, January 13, 2020 from 4–10pm.

Interested singers are invited to complete an online application and submit an .mp3 recording (see below). Please note, there are limited audition slots available, and those selected will be notified by no later than Thursday, January 9 to confirm an audition time at Symphony Hall.

If you’re not interested in applying for this round of auditions, but would like to be emailed when future auditions have been announced, please fill out the interest form linked here: TFC Audition Interest Form


Highlights of the Symphony Hall 2019-2020 TFC Schedule:

September 19 – 21, 2019
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
BEETHOVEN Choral Fantasy in C minor for piano, chorus and orchestra
POULENC Gloria, for soprano, chorus, and orchestra

November 21 – 26, 2019
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons, conductor
Galina GRIGORJEVA On Leaving
   For unaccompanied choir (November 21, 23, 26)
   James Burton, conductor
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 2, To October (recorded for DG release)

December 5 – 24, 2019
Boston Pops Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, Conductor
Holiday Pops

February 27 – March 3, 2020
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero, Conductor
DURUFLÉ Requiem

March 26 – 28, 2020
Thomas Adès, conductor
STRAVINSKY Perséphone

April 17, 2020
Post-concert Casual Friday performance
James Burton, conductor
RACHMANINOFF All-Night Vigil*
*celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus


Requesting an Audition

  • Please complete the application linked here by Monday, January 6, 2020.
  • Please send an .mp3 recording of yourself singing a classical piece of your choosing to tfc@bso.org by Monday, January 6th with the following specifications:
    • The recording should last no longer than 3 minutes.
    • It may be a cappella or accompanied.
    • Please sing straight through the piece. Post-production editing (including modifying the reverberation) should not be used on the recording. A recording on a smart phone is acceptable.
    • Label your .mp3 “Last Name_ First Name _ January 2020” and use the subject line “January 2020 TFC Audition” when submitting via email to tfc@bso.org.
    • If you’re not interested in applying for this round of auditions, but would like to be emailed when future auditions have been announced, please fill out the form linked here.
    • TFC Audition Interest Form

January 13, 2020 Audition Details

In-person auditions will take place at Boston Symphony Hall on January 13 from 4 to 10pm. If you are offered an audition time, more information regarding building access, etc. will be sent via email with your confirmed time by no later than Thursday, January 9. Each audition will last approximately 15 minutes.

For your audition, please prepare the following:

  • A classical piece lasting 2–4 minutes which best highlights your vocal talents, range, and musicality. The piece should fit one of the below categories. Examples of each can be found in the FAQ.
    • Art song
    • Opera aria
    • Solo aria from an oratorio or classical piece
    • Extract from a choral work in which your voice part is prominently or frequently used

Please use a recognized published edition of the piece (internet editions can be unreliable and contain musical inaccuracies). Make sure to bring at least 3 copies of your music to the audition.

  • A simple song in English which you will sing unaccompanied and from memory. This can be a folk song, hymn or a simple melody. It should last 1–2 minutes.

The rest of your audition will consist of:

  • Sight-reading
  • Ear tests
  • Vocal exercises - The panel may wish to establish in more detail the range of your voice, and your ability to respond to technical instruction, such as altering the placement of the voice, vocal timbre, vowel colors and so on. 

Audition Checklist

  • A 2–4 min accompanied piece which fits the criteria as outlined above
  • An unaccompanied and memorized short song in English– between 1–2 minutes
  • Bring 3 copies of your classical piece to the audition (one practically taped for the pianist)
  • Prepare for the sight-reading and ear tests
  • Practice!

January 12, 2020 Open Rehearsal - Duruflé Requiem

BSO Choral Director James Burton invites prospective auditionees and choral enthusiasts to sing in an open rehearsal of the Duruflé Requiem. Participants will sing alongside the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Symphony Hall. If interested, please complete the Duruflé Requiem Open Rehearsal Registration Form by Monday, January 6. This event is intended for those auditioning on January 13, but all are welcome to register. Those who have applied to audition on January 13 and are not selected for an in-person audition are still welcome to attend this rehearsal.

Date: Sunday, January 12, 2020
Time: 2pm–5pm (Please arrive no later than 1:45 to sign in)
Location: Symphony Hall | 301 Massachusetts Ave. Boston, MA 02115

Registered participants will be emailed with more details after the registration period.


Audition FAQ

How often does the TFC perform, what are the membership expectations?

The TFC performs year-round at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. Members are not required to sing in every concert cycle. Detailed participation guidelines are linked here.

What are some examples of appropriate classical pieces to prepare?

Art song

  • Caro mio ben by Giordani
  • An die musik by Schubert
  • The Vagabond by Vaughan Williams
  • Sure on this Shining Night by Barber

Opera aria

  • (S) Deh vieni, non tardar from Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro
  • (A) Che farò senza Euridice from Gluck Orfeo ed Euridice
  • (T) Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schon from Mozart Die Zauberflöte
  • (B) O Isis und Osiris from Mozart Die Zauberflöte

Solo aria from an oratorio or classical piece

  • (S) Blute nur from BachSt. Matthew Passion
  • (A) Qui sedes from Vivaldi Gloria
  • (T) Comfort ye, my people from Handel Messiah
  • (B) Lord God of Abraham from Mendelssohn Elijah

Extract from a choral work in which your voice part is prominent or frequently used

  • Kyrie from Mozart Requiem
  • Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen from Brahms Requiem

Songs from the American Songbook, folk songs or Musical Theatre numbers are not permitted for this audition.

Do I need to memorize my piece?

Your simple song must be memorized. Your classical piece does not need to be memorized. A stand will be provided if you choose to use music.

Will there be an accompanist?

Yes, there will be an accompanist for your classical piece. Lengthy instrumental introductions or postludes may be cut in order to fit the 2-4 minute duration criteria. The pianist’s copy should be legible and have practical page turns. Please organize this in advance of your audition.

Are there any guidelines for the sight-reading?

You will be asked to sight read a choral piece in English or Latin. Please sing as much of your part as possible, ie notes, rhythms, words, dynamics and articulations. To mimic a ‘live’ choir reading a new work, the accompanist will play the other vocal lines, but will not play your part, nor stop the performance in order to correct. You may be asked to sing more than one piece of sight reading.

Are there any guidelines for the ear tests?

The ear test will consist of familiar tasks, such as naming and pitching intervals, identifying specific pitches in a chord of 3 or 4 notes etc. The purpose of the tests is to establish the accuracy and speed of your musical ear.

Is there an opportunity for me to observe rehearsal?

Depending on the season and concert cycle, prospective applicants may observe rehearsal upon request. If interested, please email tfc@bso.org. A chorus manager will be in touch with any potential upcoming rehearsals. The BSO Choral Team may not be able to accommodate the request due to the TFC’s fluctuating schedule.