Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage


CMU Phil 2021/22 Syllabus

Below you will find the CMU Philharmonic syllabus.
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 Maestro Cárdenes.

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 everyone. We want you all to be totally prepared for winning an audition, keeping your job, being a good colleague, learning good rehearsal etiquette, integrating yourselves seamlessly into a professional environment and living a full and balanced life as a professional musician.

I. Rehearsals:

The entire year's rehearsal schedules 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 should be heard at this time-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 conductors 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, our guests and I 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. It is your responsibility to bring a sharpened pencil and eraser to every rehearsal. No one is to leave during any rehearsal for ANY reason (bathroom break, phone call, etc.) unless they have been excused from the remainder of the rehearsal. This is poor etiquette and distracting to the conductor.

II. Concerts:

Students are required to arrive at least 30 minutes early to all concert venues. Harpists and percussion players should 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 see 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 stagehands 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.

IIIA. String Principal Auditions:

Auditions for concertmaster and other principal strings will be held September 22, 2021, 6:30-10p, before the second Philharmonic cycle of the season.
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, our Resident Conductor.

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:

Formal black concert attire is expected at all CMU Philharmonic concerts and related events. This includes black tuxedo suits with a white tuxedo shirt and black bow tie, black long skirts, black button-down tops, formal slacks, gowns, jumpsuits, blouses, formal shirts, black socks, and black closed-toed shoes.

With respect to the concert dress outlined above, students are encouraged to dress in a way that makes them feel comfortable and empowered to make music. It is the aim of this policy to support all of our students in rehearsal and concert spaces. We support trans and gender nonconforming students in choosing formal attire that empowers them and we support students who dress in alignment with their culture or religion.

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 any defaced or damaged parts. Due to the frequent loss of my parts, anyone losing my music 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 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:

Your studio teachers will be aware of the cycle of 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 just a few suggestions for your preparation.

VII. Grading:

Grading will be based on several criteria: attendance, participation, preparation, professional etiquette, standard of playing and performance. The goal of the orchestral program is to prepare you for a 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 policy to Mr. Skavronski.

Evaluation breakdown:

1. Preparation: You are expected to have your individual parts prepared, learned, fingered, up to tempo and solid for the first rehearsal of every cycle. As stated in the syllabus, listening to recordings, looking at 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 section leaders in bowing styles and placements, breathing and phrasing together, intonation, concentration, attentiveness, positive posture 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 presence.

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 materials 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!

Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.
All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.
If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:

CaPS: 412-268-2922
Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226
If the situation is life threatening, call the police:
On campus: CMU Police: 412-268-2323
Off campus: 911

If you have questions about this or your coursework, please let me or our Head, Denis
Colwell know.

College of Fine Arts Diversity Statement:

“‘A university is a place where the universality of the human experience manifests itself.’ -Albert Einstein
In keeping with the spirit of Einstein’s viewpoint, the School of Music at the College of Fine Arts is committed to providing an atmosphere of learning that is inclusive of a variety of perspectives.
Names and Pronouns: All people have the right to be addressed and referred to in accordance with their personal identity. Please feel encouraged to share your pronouns to address you accordingly, and the phonetic spelling of your name for correct pronunciation.

Diverse Inclusivity: Students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course. Diversity that students bring to this class are viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. Materials and activities within this course are to be respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. With acknowledgment that implicit bias may still be present, your suggestions and feedback are encouraged and appreciated.

Accessibility Accommodations: For accommodations, please obtain a letter from the Office of Disability Resources. I encourage you to discuss your accommodation needs with me as early in the semester as possible to ensure that accommodations are provided as appropriate. If you suspect that you may have a disability and would benefit from accommodations but are not yet registered with the Office of Disability Resources, I encourage you to contact them at
Wellness: Diminished mental health and overall wellness can interfere with life balance, including academic performance. The source of symptoms might be strictly related to your course work; if so, please speak with me. However, problems with relationships, family worries, loss, or a personal struggle or crisis can also contribute to decreased academic performance. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) offers free, confidential services to help you manage personal challenges.
Information and resources are located at

Immediate support is always available (24/7): 412-268-2922.
* CaPS: 412-268-2922
Re:solve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

Religious Observations: Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for student groups. If any of our class meetings conflict with
your religious events, please let me know within the first two weeks of the semester so we can make arrangements for you.

Bias Related Incidents: Each of us is responsible for creating a safer, more inclusive environment. Unfortunately, incidents of bias or discrimination do occur, whether intentional or unintentional. They contribute to creating an unwelcoming environment for individuals and groups at the university. Therefore, the university encourages anyone who experiences or observes unfair or hostile treatment on the basis of identity to speak out for justice and support, within the moment of the incident or after the incident has passed. Anyone may speak with me and/or is encouraged to use the following resources:

Valeria J. Martinez, M.S.E., Assistant Dean for Diversity Equity and Inclusion for College of Fine Arts
Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, (412) 268-2150

Report-It online anonymous reporting platform: username: tartans password: plaid
All reports will be documented and deliberated to determine if there should be any following actions. Regardless of incident type, the university will use all shared experiences to transform our campus climate to be more equitable and just.

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. 

The principal string auditions will take place on Sunday, October 8, 2023, 6:30pm in ACH.

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

Upcoming Concerts