Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage


Dear Students,

Due to the ever changing virus protocols and university schedules, and after several iterations of the CMU Phil season, I have put together a series of rehearsals for next week. Please see the CMU Phil website for rehearsal details.

The repertoire will be:

Barber Adagio for Strings
Mozart Adagio and Fugue
Mahler Adagietto from Symphony #5

I expect you to come completely prepared and ready to play. The music will be emailed to you, and for these rehearsals, you will have to print out your own music, have it taped and prepared. There will be two orchestras, A and B, which will alternate rehearsals. My bowings and markings are already in every part, so there are no surprises or questions.

The seatings will be posted but our Head Librarian knows which parts are assigned to whom and will email them shortly. Seatings are primarily based on seniority this year, but I have seated a few underclassmen higher for experience.

There is no guarantee that we will have an April concert or recording, so your final grade may well be determined by these rehearsals. Please review the syllabus to be reminded of the Phil’s protocols, grading requirements, professionalism and attendance.

I hope that we can make music beautifully next week and make it a meaningful cycle.

Best wishes,
A Cárdenes

Major changes in the orchestra program are now in effect and I hope this syllabus is helpful in understanding your responsibilities and to define the program's objectives.

The success of the orchestra program is dependent on cooperation and understanding of everyone's role. Please refer to this syllabus for all policies and rules. Anything not listed in this syllabus may be addressed to Professor Cardenes directly.

I have put this together for your benefit-to help you prepare for a professional career, to share the proper protocols for exceptional stage presence, preparation, professionalism and the highest standards of performance. We will be inviting many distinguished conductors, soloists and musicians in the coming years. We are all keen to create a thoroughly enjoyable, professional and exciting environment for our orchestral students.

I.  Rehearsals:

The entire year's rehearsal schedule and repertoire will be posted at the beginning of the school year. Students are required to be at all assigned rehearsals and be completely prepared to play their individual parts. Proper protocol is to arrive early, warm up, and be in your assigned seats no later than ten minutes prior to start of the rehearsal. All announcements will take place five minutes before the start of the rehearsal. Tuning occurs at the exact time rehearsal begins. The Concertmaster will stand and initiate the tuning by asking the principal oboist to play an A. All wind players then will tune and quiet down. Another A will be requested by the Concertmaster, upon which all string players will tune and quiet down. Only the A and related tuning procedures are necessary-concerto playing, exercises, talking or unnecessary noise is inappropriate. The Concertmaster will be seated and the conductor will initiate the rehearsal promptly. There will be a 15 minute break during the rehearsal, whereupon the tuning protocol will be repeated. The rehearsal will end exactly at the time announced. The conductor will make themselves available immediately after rehearsals for any questions or other discussions.

Drinks and food are not permitted on stage at CMH or any other concert or rehearsal venue. Bottled water is permitted in ACH. During rehearsals, I and our guests will guide you more specifically regarding proper rehearsal etiquette. No texting, phone calls, computers, unrelated talking, etc. is permitted. All cell phones are to be turned off ten minutes before rehearsal times and concerts. Please double check to make sure.

II.  Concerts:

Students are required to arrive at least 30 minutes early to all concert venues. Harpists and percussion players please arrive as needed to prepare your instruments. Warming up, focusing, reviewing details and concentration are needed from every individual. Warming up on the stage is permissible, however concertos, "showing off" or inappropriate behavior is not acceptable. There will be people in the hall and you are representatives of the orchestra, the University, the School of Music and your professors. Consummate professionalism is expected and required.

The entire orchestra should be seated at least five minutes before concert time. Light cues will indicate the concert is about to begin. The Concertmaster will enter to applause and begin the tuning protocol as defined in the rehearsal section. The Concertmaster will be seated. Absolute quiet and attention is required while awaiting the conductor's entrance.

Once the conductor appears on stage, the person facing the entryway will give a sign to the Concertmaster, who will stand. The orchestra will watch the CM and stand at the same time. Please face out towards the audience-people want to know who you are! After shaking the CM's hand, please watch the CM to sit down. There should be no socializing, talking, noise or unnecessary distractive behavior during bows or during the performance. After intermission, the CM will already be on stage (no entry) and initiate the tuning protocol once again. The conductor will enter, however, NO standing is necessary.

After performing each work, the conductor will acknowledge individual solos and sections. Please BE ALERT, watch the conductor for these bows and accept the recognition by standing. Do not continue standing while other solos are being recognized. Sections, please stand together and refrain from talking or distracting behavior.

The concert officially concludes when the last applause ends. Congratulations, hugs, exchanges, etc on the stage are appropriate and welcome after the concerts ends. Professional behavior is still in effect. Backstage, please be cognizant that stage striking activity begins promptly. Please try not to obstruct stage hands or your colleagues (harpists, percussionists, etc.) from getting their instruments moved.

III. Casting:

All wind and percussion castings for every work to be performed during the year will be determined by the studio teacher. String seating assignments for the first concert of the year will be determined by the string faculty based on seniority, experience, ability and maturity. Auditions for concertmaster and other principal strings will be held in mid-September, before the second concert.  String faculty will nominate students to participate in this audition, which is by invitation only. There is no obligation to fill all the leadership positions if there are not enough qualified players. ALL DECISIONS ARE BASED SOLEY ON THE AUDITION, ARE FINAL AND WILL REMAIN IN PLACE FOR THE ENTIRE ACADEMIC SCHOOL YEAR.

Non-principal string players will rotate seating throughout their sections, and this rotation is managed by Mr. Curtis.

For reading rehearsals, several of those who have not been in regular principal positions will be afforded the experience of sitting in principal positions on a rotating basis.

IV.  Dress code and decorum:

Rehearsal dress is casual; however, no bare feet, short-shorts, inappropriate clothing, jangly bracelets or jewelry, NO HATS, or any clothing with offensive mottos, sayings, etc. Respectful and tactful appearance is protocol. Musicians will dress according to the following specifications for all CMU Philharmonic related concerts:

Black tuxedo, black bow tie, white tuxedo shirt, black socks, black dress shoes.

Solid black elegant skirt/dress/dress pants (ankle-length to floor length when seated), solid black elegant blouse/top with full or 3/4 length sleeves, plan black hose/socks, black dress shoes.

- NO plunging necklines, sequins, glitter, beads, or contrasting colors.
- NO open-toed shoes.
- NO flashy jewelry
- NO perfumes/colognes or heavily scented products
- NO Cell phones onstage at any time. They should be turned off and left backstage. 
- NO alarm/beeper watches, cell phones or pagers allowed on any stage or ACH during rehearsals or concerts.
- NO food or drinks (other than water) allowed on stage or rehearsal venues.
- NO newspaper, books or any portable device allowing internet access allowed on any stage or ACH during rehearsals or concerts.

V.  Music:

Music will be available at the beginning of the school year for every single work being performed on the CMU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra concerts. A website will be created for downloading parts. Original parts will be available two weeks prior to the first rehearsal of each concert sequence, for which you must sign out. These parts are MY PERSONAL MUSIC. Please respect and take care of these parts. Inappropriate writing, happy faces, comments, etc. will not be tolerated. These parts are used by many professional orchestras and we must maintain them as professionally as possible. You will be personally responsible for the parts and I expect them returned in excellent condition. You will be charged for replacing any defaced, damaged or lost parts and your grade will be lowered significantly for each offense.

Due to the loss of several of my parts last year, anyone losing my parts will be FINED AN ADDITIONAL $100 PER WORK. Proceeds will be donated to the school of Music These parts contain my bowings, phrasings, details, dynamic changes etc. I offer these parts so that we do not waste a minute of time in rehearsal with bowing or dynamic questions.

I hope that by using my marked parts, the orchestra experience is more streamlined, efficient and professional. In addition, the bowings are relevant and useful for professional orchestra auditions. All parts are to be left on your music stands following each concert, or deposited in the music bins provided at the venue.

All music will be due within 7 days of a concert. Any music not returned by this time will be considered lost; fines will be initiated immediately and attached to your student account.

VI. Preparation for rehearsals and concerts:

Music will be available well before any rehearsals begin. Your studio teachers will be aware of the repertoire. Wind players and percussionists are encouraged to bring this repertoire to your lessons for discussion and guidance. String players are expected to learn their parts and bring any questions to the attention of their teachers as well.

Listening to recordings of the works, studying a score, playing through parts with your colleagues, asking outside sources for advice, going to concerts to hear this repertoire, studying the work's history, structure and the composer's biography, are but a few suggestions for your preparation.

VII.  Grading:

Grading will be based on several criteria: attendance, proactive participation, preparation, professional etiquette, standard of playing, taking care of music parts and performance. The goal of the orchestral program is to prepare you for life in a professional orchestra or similar setting. The standards of professionalism are the yardstick by which you will be measured, not only here at CMU, but in your future positions. Please refer any questions regarding attendance policies to Mr. Skavronski.

Evaluation breakdown:

1. Preparation: You are expected to have your individual parts prepared, fingered. learned. up to tempo and solid for the first rehearsal of every cycle. As stated in the syllabus, listening to recordings, looking at and studying scores, playing parts for your teachers and colleagues, etc., are a few suggestions.

2. Professionalism: Major factors in grading are your deportment in rehearsals, ability to work together and quickly implement suggestions from the podium or section leaders, following sections leaders in bowing styles and placements, breathing and phrasing together, intonation, concentration, attentiveness and commitment to constantly improving the execution of the music.

3. Stage presence: Important elements of performing are to engage the audience with positive stage presence, acknowledge applause graciously with eye contact, and adhere to the dress code in detail. TEXTING OR USE OF ANY ELECTRONICS ON STAGE BEFORE, DURING OR IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING CONCERTS WILL RESULT IN AN IMMEDIATE FAILING GRADE. TEXTING OR USE OF ANY ELECTRONICS DURING ANY ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL WILL DROP YOUR GRADE TWO LEVELS. Please refer to the orchestra syllabus for more details on stage presesnce.

4. Concerts: It is important to achieve goals set forth during rehearsals, executing suggestions from rehearsals and setting high standards of playing.

5. Music: Promptly returning materials  immediately following concerts. Taking care of these parts responsibly and returning them in pristine condition is imperative. Lost or damaged parts will have significant bearing on your grade, in addition to fines and replacement costs.

By investing yourselves in the program, the results will be fulfilling and inspiring. Let's do this together!

The principal string auditions will take place on Tuesday, Sept 17, 2019, 7-10pm in CFA 109.

Below you will find the repertoire selected for the auditions as discussed in the past and present. All the music is readily available either online, in our library, etc. There are no rentals except the Prokofiev which is posted on our CMU website.

I am now accepting nominations for the the auditions. The auditions for principals will be teacher recommended, 8 violins max, 4 violas, 4 cellos, 4 basses. These students must, in the estimate of the teacher, be in the top rank of musicians in each studio. I hope to have at least two concertmasters and 4 others that will alternate between 1st stand of seconds and 2nd stand of 1sts. All other instruments can be designated as principal, co-principal or associate/assistant principal. Please pass along the names of your participating students as soon as possible. Below are the audition requirements.

Those students that do not meet the standards for a principal position will be rotated along with the rest of their sections. If there are no suitable leaders for any position, the rotation will then include that chair. All decisions are FINAL and will remain in place for the entire academic year. For more information, please see the CMU Phil website.

Exposition of a major concerto
Rimsky Korsakov: Scheherezade solos (Movement I: opening cadenza; Movement II opening cadenza; Movement IV: Recitativo Lento, Recitativo Adagio)
Prokofiev Death of Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet (#70-#79)
Brahms: Symphony #1, 2nd movement solo (pick ups to letter E to end)
Mozart: Symphony #39  2nd movement (opening to 7 before letter A)
Exposition of a major concerto or concert work (such as Hindemith)
Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture (pick up to 3 after #1 to #3)
Brahms: Haydn Variations (Var. 5, beginning to letter I as in India)
Strauss Don Quixote (Solo: 10 before #30 to 5 after #33)
Exposition of a major concerto
Strauss Don Juan first page
Mozart Symphony #35 “Haffner” 4th movement
Rossini William Tell Overture solo
Debussy La Mer (2 before #9 to 6 after #9)
First movement of a concerto of choice.
One movement of a Bach Suite.
Beethoven 5, third movement
Mozart 40, Movements 1 and 4
Brahms 1, Mvt. 1 Letter E
Ein Heldeleben Nos. 9 and 77
Mahler 1 solo

Excused Absence Policy

Participation in “major instrumental ensembles” including the CMU Philharmonic is an essential component of orchestral instrumentalists’ curriculum in the School of Music and must be treated as a top priority. Playing in major ensembles is a curricular requirement of all undergraduate and graduate students studying orchestral instruments. Unless explicitly exempted by a studio instructor, AMS students are also required to play in major ensembles and are expected to prioritize ensembles in their schedules.

The orchestra’s concert and rehearsal schedule is published on the CMU Philharmonic website at the beginning of the summer and is set in stone for the entire year. Therefore, there is no excuse for not knowing what the schedule is. The orchestra’s schedule is built such that there are at least two weeks off between concert cycles when students can plan to gig and do outside work. For these reasons, excused absences from orchestra for reasons other than illness or family emergency will be granted only in very rare circumstances.

Although assignments are published on a per-cycle basis (at least two weeks before the first rehearsal) all eligible instrumentalists in the School of Music should assume that they will be assigned to every orchestra cycle. If a potential conflict with the orchestra’s schedule arises, students should submit their petitions for an excused absence or tardiness according to the protocols and deadlines detailed below.

An excused absence may be granted in the following circumstances:

1. A professional opportunity that has the potential to significantly advance a student’s career. This includes gigs with ensembles that hold a very high profile in the industry, auditions for major orchestra positions, and auditions for major competitions or festivals.

2. Auditions for graduate school or doctorate programs when an alternate, non-conflicting date is not available.

3. Illness or a medical emergency.

4. A family emergency/death in the family. An excused absence will likely NOT be granted in the following circumstances:

1. If the request is submitted after the deadline (see below).

2. If alternate audition dates/times or travel options are available that would prevent there being a conflict.

3. If the gig, even a paid gig, is with an orchestra/ensemble that does meet a certain level of artistic excellence to justify the student’s absence from the CMU Philharmonic.

Excused Absence Process

Even though assignments are made on a per-concert-cycle basis (at least two weeks before a rehearsal cycle begins), do not wait until you are assigned to a cycle to submit your petition for an excused absence or release from a cycle. As soon as you are aware of a potential conflict with an ensemble schedule, you should submit a petition for excused absence as this increases the possibility that that petition may be granted.

The approval or disapproval of an excused absence request is the decision of the Philharmonic Director only.

To request that a tardiness or absence be considered for an excuse, the following steps must be taken:

1. Send an email to AND

2. Copy your studio teacher on the email. As most assignments to instrumental ensembles come from studio teachers, it is important that they are aware of any potential conflicts and scheduling issues within their studio.

3. State the following in your email petition: a. your name b. your instrument c. date(s) in conflict d. detailed explanation of the reason for the conflict

4. In the same or in a subsequent email, provide official documentation that clearly details the nature of the conflict. Depending on the type of conflict, this documentation may take the form of a doctor’s note, an email invite to an audition or competition, or a hiring letter/contract for a professional performance opportunity.

5. If you are a wind player, percussionist, harpist, keyboard or principal string player, you must find a substitute for your part/s and name him/her on the petition. No petition will be approved without this information.

Deadlines for an Excused Absence Email

1. Illness or Emergency: Email within three days of the date of the tardiness or absence.

2. Professional Opportunity: Email at least two weeks before the first rehearsal of the cycle in which the tardiness or absence is requested.

A request to be released from a rehearsal or concert for a professional opportunity that is not submitted before the two-week deadline will be denied.


Attendance is required at every rehearsal and concert. An unexcused tardiness or absence will lower your grade significantly.

tardy to 1 rehearsal = ½ unexcused absence

tardy to 1 dress rehearsal = 1 unexcused absence

tardy to 1 concert = 4 unexcused absences

absent from 1 rehearsal = 1 unexcused absence

absent from 1 dress rehearsal = 2 unexcused absences

absent from 1 concert = 4 unexcused absences

Each unexcused absence will lower your grade by one letter. For example, one unexcused absence would lower an “A” to a “B.” Four unexcused absences will result in an “R.” An unsatisfactory grade (D or lower for undergraduate students, C or lower for graduate and AMS students) may result in loss of good standing in the School of Music or being dropped from the School of Music. 

Upcoming Concerts