My name is Nick Akers and I am the Artistic Manager of the Pacific Music Festival. “Artistic Manager” refers to dealing with conductors, artists, faculty, and programming, in addition to the Academy (and then I’m the Orchestra Manager in July). From time to time I will write a little post here. Topics will include things directly but also indirectly related to PMF.

For this, the first one, I have tried to answer about 10 years’ worth of questions from young musicians regarding our auditions. All the info you need is here, and reading through that should be Step 1, but these are things people have often felt the need to double check.

So, dear orchestral musicians from 18 to 29 years old, I hope you find this helpful!

The ideal PMF audition video is like this: the musician is alone (no piano!) and states their name, slowly and clearly, and then plays the solo piece(s). Then there is a cut, or there isn’t a cut – this is the only place a cut is allowed in the video. Then the musician plays the listed excerpts, in listed order. The whole thing is less than 20 minutes.

Really, no piano?

Yep, really.
 *Any accompaniment will automatically disqualify your audition.

Why do I need to say my name?

We provide program details in Japanese and English, and we make phonetic Japanese for everyone’s name (for example, my name becomes “nik-ku”). With applicants from so many language-backgrounds, we can’t always guess the correct pronunciation from the spelling.
If you forget to say your name, we can usually deal with it later (like maybe I’ll call you), after you pass the audition.
 *Nothing related to saying your name will disqualify your audition video.

Is there any flexibility on the age requirements?

No, there is no flexibility on this. The rule is 18 to 29 “as of July 1 of the year in question,” and unfortunately even one day over/under is not allowed.

Is the concerto I chose considered “standard”? (violin & cello only)

This is a subjective thing, and to some extent you can kind of choose the answer yourself, but we are happy to help you consider specific pieces. What you want is something that audition judges will agree is “standard” (and will agree is a “concerto”) and it’s possible that choosing something unknown to judges will have some negative impact.
 But *concerto choice will not automatically disqualify your audition, and usually is not an issue.

Should I play the cadenza?

If your concerto has a cadenza and it’s unclear whether you should include it in your audition: it’s up to you. How do you feel about it? You want to represent your musicality in the best way possible, in every part of your audition. Does this cadenza help you do that? It’s basically a risky opportunity to show the judges something extra.
 *Playing/not playing a cadenza that isn’t clearly required will not automatically disqualify your audition. Just don’t forget the 20-minute rule.

Why is it preferable to upload my video to Acceptd instead of YouTube?

It’s just easier for us to organize the applications this way. The YouTube option is a recent change we made in order to allow people in systematically unstable internet environments to apply. That is a great thing, but it also complicates our work a bit. Anyway, it’s only about administrative stuff, not musical stuff.
 So *using YouTube instead of uploading to Acceptd will not impact your audition results in any way.

When is ideal to submit?

We joke about giving extra points to people who submit early, but this is just because it’s hard for us to organize the applications all at the last minute. Much more importantly, Acceptd’s servers tend to slow down in the last few days before our deadline, as everyone is uploading at the same time. And if you have something come up near the deadline, like an illness, an accident, etc. – it happens! – then you could miss your chance to apply. So we recommend submitting “early.” Like maybe tell yourself that the deadline is 2 weeks before it really is?
 *Timing of submission has no impact on your audition results. As long as it’s in before the deadline. So then:

Is there any flexibility on the deadline?

No, there is no flexibility on this. Once our system shuts down, that’s that. Running into this problem can be very, very frustrating, and understandably so. (Some seriously sad past conversations on this come to mind....) So again, we highly recommend avoiding the problem by submitting early.


One last thought: make sure we can see your hands while you play. Occasionally a music stand has covered a player’s hands and this has led to some unfortunate discussions here, which is definitely not what you want.

OK, I hope this helps as you consider auditioning for PMF!

You can reach us at with questions about auditions.
But do read through the Audition Information page first to see if what you need is already there.