Welcome to Sonos Handbell Ensemble!   Artistic Director: James Meredith

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Widely considered the best handbell group in the US.

-- Sarah Cahill
East Bay Express

Their music stunned us all. The four thousand audience members went wild, just as we knew they would.

-- Garrison Keillor
Host, A Prairie Home Companion

Olympians of handbell ringers.

-- Joyce Johnson Hamilton
Music Director, Diablo Symphony

The musicianship ... is solid, and the musical values regarding repertoire and its execution are invariably of the highest order. So is the sound.

-- David Vernier

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What:   General Auditions for Sonos Handbell Ensemble
When:   By appointment
Where:   San Francisco Bay Area and at locations around the country when Sonos is on tour.
How:   Apply to Jason Tiller for an appointment: (510) 673-7895

Sonos Handbell Ensemble is now accepting applications for the 2010-2011 general auditions. In these general auditions, all positions in the 14-ringer ensemble are available to applicants as the contract for current musicians expires in July.

Auditionees must be team players, must demonstrate physical coordination and musical proficiency (instrumental or vocal), be willing to tour extensively, and be able to make a one-year commitment. Rehearsals and performances paid. Valid passport will be required prior to international tours.

To apply for the audition, candidates must contact the Auditions Coordinator. Interested ringers will receive an application form to complete.

The Screening Process

The first step in auditioning is a screening process designed to give applicants immediate feedback as to whether or not their skills are at an appropriate level. Applicants will receive a packet including a questionnaire, a solo, and a set of drills. Applicants will videotape themselves performing the solo, the drills, and examples of themselves playing within a full ensemble. The videotape should be in VHS or 8mm format.

Applicants will have at most one month and at least two weeks from the date they receive the solo packet to return the screening video. If you are interested, you should apply as quickly as possible to have the most time possible. After returning the video and the questionnaire, the applicants will be screened by the adjudication committee and notified soon after if they have been accepted for the audition.

The Audition Process

Successful applicants will receive a packet in the mail approximately 2 weeks before the audition date containing full ensemble music to be prepared for the audition in July. Specific sections and parts will be delineated. Applicants can feel free to mark up this music, but it must be returned to Sonos at the audition.

Auditionees will perform their prepared parts along with the current musicians in Sonos. NOTE that auditionees will be reading from Sonos scores, not the scores they used for practice! In addition to ringing the prepared pieces, some sightreading will be involved, and there might be a written test of musical knowledge administered before the ringing audition.

The Interview

After the ringing is done, the group will sit down together in a circle with the auditionee and answer any questions the auditionee might have about Sonos. It is the audition committee's responsibility to ensure that all applicants have as much information necessary to make a reasoned decision about joining Sonos, should the offer be extended. It is to no one's advantage that a musician join Sonos only to discover that the ensemble does not operate or offer what the applicant expected.

During the interview, Sonos musicians might ask the auditionee about certain aspects of their questionnaire to highlight some possible areas of difficulty. Sonos is stressful and demanding, and current Sonosians can relate direct experiences that will again help the auditionee and Sonos determine if theirs is a good fit.

Auditioning on Tour

Starting in the Fall of 2001, Sonos will be offering time for applicants to audition for the ensemble at all of its tour destinations. We hope that this will remove the "geographical" barrier to auditioning and entering the ensemble. We want talented musicians from around the country to have the opportunity to play in a professional handbell ensemble.

The audition process at tour stops will be slightly different in that the "screening" and "audition" parts described above will be combined in to one: applicants will be performing extensive prepared and sightread drills in addition to playing in the ensemble. Applicants should always expect to be videotaped and adjudicated throughout the process. Interested musicians should contact the Audition Coordinator, Jason Tiller, no later than three weeks before a possible scheduled audition. However, it is best to contact Jason as early as possible, so that an audition time can be worked out amongst Sonos' many events while on tour.

For more information ...

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Jason Tiller at AuditionsSonos.org.

Sonos is an equal-opportunity ensemble.


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