International Summer Academy in Cremona, Italy

Students Chamber Music - 4Cremona - 10Cremona - 2

The summer is approaching fast and students are frantically looking for Summer Camps to apply. For those who prefer to stay in the area and take just solo piano lessons, I refer to SEPF (Southern Eastern Piano Festival) at USC (Executive Director Marina Lomazov). For those who are looking for en extended development of all areas of pianist activities – I highly recommend International Music Academy that will take a place on July 9-22 of this year in Cremona, Italy. International faculty will help students to develop and enhance, besides their solo repertoire, piano duo, chamber music and accompaniment skills in an intense but supportive and encouraging environment. Please read the article of one of the participants, my student Deborah Brown, who attended the Academy in summer 2012.

“I  recently returned from a two-week stay in Cremona, Italy (birthplace of the Stradivarius’s violin) where I participated in the “Cremona International Music Academy”. The Academy provides an intense program of study and performance of music and for me, provided a rare opportunity to perform in ensembles as well as solo piano.

Each participant was required to perform as a soloist in at least one ShowCase recital and encouraged to sign-up for additional solo performances which could be ShowCase recitals or the more informal lunch-time concerts. In addition, before arriving in Cremona we had each been assigned a number of ensemble works to be performed during the chamber music concerts, the orchestra concerts, or the piano duo concert. For me this added up to five performances: two solos (Debussy’s “Jardin Sous La Pluie”, a Chopin Etude), a piano-violin duet (the 1st movement of Dvorak’s Sonatina in G minor), a trio for violin, flute, and piano ( Vinee’s “Trio Serenade”), and a piano-duo ( some of the Brahms’ Hungarian Dances).

Of course quite a bit of  work went into these. A typical day for me included two coaching and two practice sessions for the ensembles, a coaching and practice session for the piano duo as well as  scheduled and unscheduled time for practicing on my own. On alternate days, a private piano lesson replaced the piano duo practice and coaching sessions. The sessions began at 9:00 AM and, depending on individual schedules, could end as late as 5:00 PM. But that was not the end of the day. Because the Italians take a 3 or 4 hour siesta beginning around mid day, their evenings go quite late. To guarantee the largest audience, the concerts began at 8:00 and 9:30PM.

Outside of my performances, I had the chance to attend many of the concerts. There were indoor and outdoor events. There were orchestras, vocalists, piano trios, quartets, and quintets, and string ensembles. There were concerts featuring local artists, faculty, and of course, Academy students. Much of the music was filled with pathos, and all very beautiful. I remember in particular one number that for me evoked the image of ghosts in a graveyard. When I returned home, I found recordings of many of the numbers I had heard during the Academy concerts, but none of them seemed to possess the magic of those live performances.

As for non-music related interests, there were several including: long (meaning 3-hour) meals, the outdoor market held every Saturday and Wednesday morning, a trip to Verona (home of Romeo and Juliet, and site of the world’s 3rd largest ancient coliseum), a trip to Lake Garda where you can take a boat ride and see a house that belonged to Maria Callas, the Cremona Chamber of Commerce with its carved mural featuring cows, musical instruments, and corn. And my absolute favorite – the Cathedral (Duormo) – who outside is decorated with a mixture of astrological symbols, lions, gargoyles, and Christian saints.

Now that I am back home, I realize how special those the two weeks were. I have brought back with me a renewed love for music and special appreciation to the Academy for its wonderful program.”

(Deborah Brown)

Cremona, Italy