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 Tuesday, November 5th 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 Friday, November 1st to confirm an audition time at Symphony Hall. Singers who are not initially selected will be notified of any openings in our schedule.

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

March 26 – 28, 2020
Thomas Adès, conductor

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

Requesting an Audition

  • Please complete the application linked here by Friday, October 25th.
  • Please send an .mp3 recording of yourself singing a classical piece of your choosing to by Friday, October 25th 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 _ November 2019” and use the subject line “November 2019 TFC Audition” when submitting via email to
    • Due Friday, October 25th to

November 5th Audition Details

In person auditions will take place at Boston Symphony Hall on November 5th 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 Friday, November 1st. 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!

Audition FAQ

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 Euridicefrom GluckOrfeo 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.