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#1852604 - 02/27/12 03:46 PM Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others...
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Hello everyone,

I'm the process of applying to several summer music festivals, and as the March 1st deadlines loom near, I'm wondering if people have some thoughts about these festivals and their respective teachers.

Brevard Music Center

Norman Krieger

Donna Lee

Deloise Lima

Craig Nies

Elisabeth Pridonoff

Sandra Wright Shen

Douglas Weeks

Eastern Music Festival

Diane Walsh

William Wolfram

Gideon Rubin

My applications for both are already in order, but I haven't pulled the trigger yet (hehe) on either of them because of the steep application fees. From what I've gathered, Brevard is bigger (70 pianists - Eastern has 20) and probably is a little less selective because of that. They also seem flexible: I called them about their 12-minute audition length limit, and they said a few minutes over would be fine. In addition, Eastern appears to be short two of their regular teachers (James Giles and Yoshikazu Nagai are absent).

Even if I get into one of them, I may not go because of other festivals that I'm interested in (with later application deadlines), but if there are some very positive remarks about teachers at Eastern or Brevard, I will consider them more seriously.

So, questions! All referring to both institutions.

Musical
What are the performance opportunities like?
Practice room situation? Instrument quality, privateness, quietness...
Opportunities to practice on larger classroom/recital hall instruments?
Teacher personalities? Patient, forgiving, positive, yet firm and demanding?
Masterclasses? Having a chance to actually get into one?
General attitude? Juilliard business-like or more compromising, supportive, and warm?

Other
Accomodations? Quiet enough for daytime naps? Private?
Food? Semi decent?
Lots of time wasted in organizational things like announcements and meals?
Attitude of fellow students? Music nerds or pop culture-ites? Friendly and inviting or cliquey and cold? Interests outside of music and pop culture, like art?
Long lasting friendships formed?
Weather? Haha, I know it's the South, but Brevard is close to the Smokies, right?


Those kind of questions apply to the other festivals I'm applying to as well (they have later deadlines). Does anyone have any experience with these other festivals?

Texas State International Piano Festival (with Julian Martin, Boris Slutsky, Barry Snyder, Marina Lomazov, and others) - short, early in the summer, localish, but truly great artists! Early in the summer, and I've already sent my app for this one.

Southeastern Piano Festival (with Slutsky, Alessio Bax (masterclass givers) Charles Fugo, Marina Lomazov, and others) - looks like a nice hall and old university, a cool town, and the same artists that I saw at Texas State! Could go to both.

International Institute for Young Musicians (Lawrence, Kansas - Scott McBride Smith, Nancy Weems, Jack Winerock, and others...) - seems kind of odd. Almost all of the teachers are no longer performing artists and are entirely teachers. Another thing that keeps me from bursting out of my chair for this one are some reservations I have about the Weems teaching style... and expectation that others here will be in the same vein.

Indiana University Piano Academy (Taylor and others - masterclasses including Hans Boepple, Ried Gainsford, Evelyne Brancart,Gilbert Kalish, Menahem Pressler, Karen Shaw, and Robert Weirich). Seems interesting in terms of masterclasses, connections, and not super-intense mood (yet of course demanding high standard). OSK turned me on to this one and recommended it highly grin

Texas Music Festival High School Piano Institute (University of Houston - Tim Hester, Tali Morgulis, Eduardo Montiero, Igor Resnianski, and John and Nancy Weems). Local, short, but a good program.

The one that seems almost by far the most interesting (to me) is Adamant Music School in Vermont. Teachers for the three week session aren't big names but seem like well-connected performers with bodies of devoted students, and masterclasses are in three additional five-day sessions with André Laplante, John O'Conor, and Menahem Pressler. The attitude there seems to focus on self-motivation - "you want to perform this weekend? Sounds great, what do you want to play?" "Oh, you don't feel up to it? No problem!" is the vibe I get. It's attended by high school and college age students, along with young professionals and adult amateurs!

Anyone have thoughts or opinions about these festivals?

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#1852653 - 02/27/12 05:31 PM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I studied with Dr. Craig Nies from Vanderbilt at Brevard when I went last year. He was very insightful and is a nice guy. I can PM you more about Brevard if you'd like. I'm hoping to go back again. One quick thing I will say though: Brevard is a fantastic camp, but the impression I got, and I've also heard a couple others say this as well, is that it's a great place for high schoolers, but it's even better suited for college students (college students have no curfew, no morning classes, higher priority for practice spaces). It's a lot

Also, I REALLY REALLY recommend the camp at Indiana. It's fantastic. The second year I went was hands down THE best summer of my life. It was almost two years ago and I STILL drive to IU to see some of my IUPA friends that now attend IU, solely for the purpose of hanging out them. They are some of the best friends in my life. smile The teachers are all great teachers, too.

There are also a couple people on this board familiar with IUPA and can also talk to you about it.


Edited by Orange Soda King (02/27/12 05:32 PM)

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#1852712 - 02/27/12 07:01 PM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
emmov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/29/11
Posts: 72
Yo! I'm going to echo OSK in that I highly recommend IUPA smile smile
feel free to PM me if you'd like to hear more glowing praises etc. It's really quite great- the people, faculty, experiences smile

hmm I know some people who've went to IIYM (Kansas) and it has a pretty big reputation, but all I heard from it is that the rules are really relaxed.
OH two of my friends study with Igor Resnianski grin and I ah have met with/masterclass-ed before

but yeah, Indiana!!

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#1853187 - 02/28/12 02:53 PM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
1091Piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 31
This is a little late, as the deadline already passed, but the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado is definitely one of the best summer programs in the world. The concerts that they offer are performed by the greatest musicians (Yuja Wang, Joshua Bell, Garrick Ohlsson, Hamelin, Thibaudet, Sarah Chang, etc.) and the faculty are extremely high-level. Some piano faculties include Yoheved Kaplinsky, Rita Sloan, John O'Conor, Anton Nel, etc. I would apply there next year! I had a great time there and learned a lot.

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#1853291 - 02/28/12 06:29 PM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: 1091Piano]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Did you call Joshua Bell one of the greatest musicians?

Aspen is riDONKulous (translation for Bruce D: Exceptionally great). And yes, the piano faculty there are FANTASTIC. smile

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#1853454 - 02/29/12 12:40 AM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1458
If you're in high school, Indiana University Piano Academy, HANDS DOWN, no questions asked. My only experience with it was as a staff member, but how I could have gone as a student!

Why it is so great:

- In addition to daily lessons with the regular faculty (who are stellar enough as is), there are masterclasses about three times a week with some of the most famous pianists alive (Pressler, Watts, Argerich, O'Connor, etc). I don't know of any other festival that brings in such big names to give classes to such a young age group.

- On-call practice coaches for all practice time. This means that anytime during your practice, if you are having trouble with a passage, need some quick advice, or just want to talk about/play something for somebody, a "practice coach" will be sent to your room.

-Interactive sessions....OSK can tell you about these in detail but from what I understand you perform in front of all six faculty members, and they debate publicly, onstage amongst themselves about different approaches to interpretation. Sort of like a masterclass with 6 teachers.

-World class concerts every night

-Duets and ensemble exposure

-Theory classes

-Alexander technique classes

-Great opportunities to network. Bloomington in the summer is fantastic: the whole town is virtually empty -you are alone with the humidity, thunderstorms, and your peers and mentors. Since there are so many picnics and outings, and everything is so compact, you'll get to make a lot of lifelong friends and connections.

I was never a huge festival-goer, thus my experience is limited. Yet I can't imagine that anything else could be much better..


Edited by Opus_Maximus (02/29/12 12:49 AM)

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#1853465 - 02/29/12 01:34 AM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Thanks for the input, everybody! IUPA seems like quite the thing, musically and otherwise - I definitely will apply and seriously consider. The only thing keeping me from going all out, YES, that sounds FABulous, is that I really feel I must examine Adamant as closely as I can: certain aspects of it make it seem like the ideal place for me.

Of course, there's a very reasonable alternative: spend the whole summer at home, two lessons per week, and much repertoire building! I actually have recently been thinking over what I really mean to accomplish by attending these festivals: is it to become a better pianist? Yes, of course, but what will make me develop quickly as a pianist? Contact and connections with these major artists when I have a small repertoire and am relatively slow at learning notes? Maybe at this stage the most important thing is for me to build a solid repertoire for me to refine with these lovely festival people at these lovely festivals later on, next year or the year after. I already have a network of really exceptional musicians (in addition to my brilliant primary teacher) for which I can perform my repertoire on a regular basis and get incredible insight into whatever I do.

Has anyone else passed up a summer festival to work on repertoire instead? I know some students at Rice who do this, and it certainly works for them, but I'm curious about different experiences people here have had in that vein.

Oh, Aspen... THAT would be quite the thing grin It's a possibility for the future, not this summer or the next, but the one after or the one after that... whome

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#1853477 - 02/29/12 02:18 AM Re: Summer festivals! Eastern, Brevard, and others... [Re: AldenH]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1458
Originally Posted By: AldenH

I actually have recently been thinking over what I really mean to accomplish by attending these festivals: is it to become a better pianist? Yes, of course, but what will make me develop quickly as a pianist? Contact and connections with these major artists when I have a small repertoire and am relatively slow at learning notes? Maybe at this stage the most important thing is for me to build a solid repertoire for me to refine with these lovely festival people at these lovely festivals later on, next year or the year after.


That was EXACTLY my thinking when I was your age, in your situation, which was exactly why I never went to any festivals in high school. And guess what? Now that is one of my biggest regrets - that I never went to any.

The truth of the matter is "quick development as a pianist" comes more from exposure to a variety of brilliant ideas and lots of motivated, talented people around you than from just staying in your comfort zone and practicing at home. (Ok, you DO have to spend a lot of time practicing alone at home, but these festivals are just a few weeks at most, it's not like they are a constant way of life).

For example, you say that you are slow at learning notes: If you stay at home you will continue to practice as you have always practiced and take lessons with a teacher you already are familiar with. But if you go to a festival, you are giving yourself the opportunity to learn about practice methods that you never knew existed, or to get tips on sight-reading you have never heard of before. You will get to know pianists much stronger than you, and get the chance to talk to them about their lives, pursuits, and work habits.

Think back to your own pianistic past. Can you pinpoint the times when you felt you made breakthroughs or had a sudden burst of progress? Did they just happen after you had been practicing by yourself for long periods of time? Maybe. Of course we all discover things on our on at times. But in my opinion we learn our best when we take what our own instincts tell us and then assimilate that with what we are being taught and are experiencing. And festivals are goldmines of learning and experience. You will have more lessons, meet more people, and perform more than if you just stay at home. Then, later on, you can integrate those experiences with your practicing in solitude.

It's tempting to think that we will always be more "ready" for something in the future, but in my experience, this feeling of ultimate 'readiness" never quite comes, so it's best to simply do.

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