Aspen Music Fest students offer help on the Audition Trail |

Aspen Music Fest students offer help on the Audition Trail

Aspen music students Anders Cornell, left, and Miguel Sonnak launched the website to help fellow musicians pay for traveling to auditions.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

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A pair of students at the Aspen Music Festival and School have made more than music this summer.

Miguel Sonnak, 23, recently spearheaded the launch of a crowdfunding website to help fellow young musicians with the often onerous cost of traveling to auditions. The site — — is collecting donations and inviting musicians to apply for scholarships for plane tickets and travel expenses.

The idea came to Sonnak — a native of Spain and recent graduate of Lynn University Conservatory of Music in viola performance, who is studying with the American Academy of Conducting here this summer – while conducting here earlier this month. He looked around at the student musicians, many younger than he is, and thought about the difficulty many face traveling around the U.S. just to audition.

“They’re going from Boca Raton to San Francisco to New York — all over the country — and these plane tickets are expensive,” Sonnak said. “Factor in that people sometimes don’t know anyone in that city and they need a hotel room for two nights.”

The average age of an Aspen Music Festival student is 22. Many, still in school or just out and pursuing music, don’t have day jobs or means to travel.

“I talked to my viola section, they loved it. I went to the cellos and the violins, they loved it,” Sonnak recalled. “I said, ‘OK, there’s interest. Let’s see how we can do it.’”

So he hooked up with a fellow student, Anders Cornell, who can write code, and the pair went to work in a Marolt Ranch dormitory. Within a week, was up and running.

It’s open to musicians who play violin, viola, cello and bass. The site invites them to write an essay and upload a video audition on the site for consideration.

The first donation came from Cornell’s roommate’s mother shortly after the site went live.

Audition Trail doesn’t yet have nonprofit legal status. Sonnak said all money that comes into the site will go directly toward scholarships and that he is covering the site’s operational expenses out of his own pocket (he has income from a handful of jobs, including making sound effects for a video game).

He is hopeful that the newborn site will grow and become a resource for aspiring professional musicians.

“I want us here at the Aspen Music Festival to be the next generation playing concerts, and the next generation needs help,” he said. “Culture is needed in society.”

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