Second International Youth Music Festival, Oxford, UK 2007
Youth Music International
is dedicated to creating a musical experience of extraordinary
depth and heightened artistic inspiration for students, professionals
and audiences through a dynamic combination of mentorship,
historically and architecturally unique environments, and
Since 2003, Youth Music International
has been making it possible for young people to experience
the enrichment of working artistically within other cultures
in the intimate medium of chamber music.
In a unique collaboration, these
exceptional young string players from California and the UK
have spent 5 days working intensively with an emminent faculty
from the US and the UK, to prepare two dynamic programs of
chamber music and orchestral masterpieces in the historic
beauty of Oxford.
Bringing together musicians from
differing cultural backgrounds, ages, perspectives, and insights
creates a rich, inspiring atmosphere which is ideal for the
intimate medium of chamber music. With the mentorship and
expertise of professional chamber musicians as well as the
leadership older students provide for younger ones, this programme
sparks a permanent expansion to the creative imagination and
artistic development of a young musician. The creation of
this uniquely inspirational environment within the "City
of Dreaming Spires" will be an unforgettable experience
for them as well as the audience.
It is the mission of Youth Music
International to bring this vision alive as an annual event
in San Francisco, USA and Oxford, UK. YMI is a fully registered
public charity (non-profit organization).
And so it began…
The Festival kicked off when 21 Americans arrived at the beautiful
Wychwood School (just north of the Oxford City Center) on
a sunny Saturday, August 11th. After finding their way to
their rooms, they set down their luggage, changed and came
back to a hot lunch and afterwards put on their walking shoes
and went into the city center to explore and shop!
Sunday August 12th, Some of the Americans
set off for some more sight-seeing on an early train to the
ancient Roman City of Bath while others took a bus to another
famous city (Woodstock) to explore Blenheim Palace (the seat
of the Duke of Marlborough and Winston Churchchill's birthplace)
Meanwhile back at the Wychwood School,
19 British students began to arrive individually. While they
waited for the Americans to return from their sight-seeing,
they got settled and orientated in the school and some reclaimed
old friends and others got to know new friends. When the Americans
returned, (excited to meet the British students) we all had
an introductory and welcome meeting in the dining hall. Everyone
was introduced to the Director, faculty, Conductor and chaperones
and we sat down to our first meal together with energy.
Later that evening, James Ross, the conductor
led the orchestra in a read-through of the Elgar Introduction
and Allegro in the beautiful music hall of the Wychwood School.
It gave everyone a chance to break the ice and connect and
get a sense of what to expect for the week.
After the first orchestra read-through,
there was still time for many of the older students to visit
some of the famous pubs in Oxford. For the Americans, it was
a chance to experience the social institution that is a fundamental
part of British community. Others remained back at Wychwood
for a bit of unwinding.
Monday August 13 - In spite of some very late hours for some
of the students the night before, everyone made it to breakfast
by 8:30 am as the first chamber rehearsals began promptly
at 9:00am. This was the first time the students all got to
meet their full chamber ensembles (most of which were equally
balanced with British and Americans). It was also the first
time they got to work with the faculty and coaches who rotated
on that first day.
After 4 hours of chamber music coaching/rehearsal,
the students had a long lumch and in the afternoon, orchestra
rehearsals began. It took a little while to get everyone seated
for each piece as there were rotational seatings for every
work. After 4 hours of orchestral rehearsals (with breaks)
the students completed the longest day of the course and were
ready to relax! Off to Oxford Castle for a bit of Shakespeare.
Even though they were tired from
both rehearsals, socializing and, in some cases, jet lag,
they eagerly arrived for rehearsals. It was inspiring to see
with what dedication and commitment so many of these young
people immersed themselves in the whole experience. They were
spurred on to work even harder as they knew that the following
day would bring the first Masterclass with renowned Guest
Artist and British Violinist from the Belcea Quartet, Laura
Wednesday August 15 - Everyone was excited and nervous to
welcome such an eminent and gracious International Artist
as Laura Samuel. However, her incredible warmth, spirit and
inspiring musical vision really made everyone feel so much
at ease and allowed them to soar to new heights. She instinctively
and incisively understood immediately how to catalyze each
group's energy and give them direction and insight.
After such an incredible day, Laura
left everyone feeling inspired and eager to move forward. Everyone
was taken by her genuine warmth and learned so much from her
musical passion and guidance.
After the Masterclass the students had a long break to rest
and relax then a short orchestral rehearsal followed. After
orchestra, some of the older students headed for the pub while
others stayed to play "quickies" (informal sight-reading) with
some of the faculty, Deirdre Cooper and Glen Sheldon.
Thursday August 16th - There was yet again more nervous excitement
in the air in anticipation of the arrival of International
Cello Soloist, Guy Johnston (BBC Young Musician of the Year
2000). Guy's profound connection, musical integrity and his
generous spirited extension of himself to each ensemble were
also evident immediately and helped calm and draw out the
abilities of each ensemble. His gentle but very precise guidance
really gave the ensembles the extra polish and push towards
their performances on the following day.
Friday August 17th - The excitement that had been building
all week now reached new heights as everyone now really knew
they were almost out of rehearsal time. Our first concert
was upon us and would be a lunchtime concert at one of the
most prestigious and renowned cathedrals and University in
England: Christ Church Cathedral at Oxford University. The
excitement of playing in such an incredible venue (and the
site where much of Harry Potter was filmed) gave students
additional energy and motivation.
We took time for a punting expedition
Our final concert was at the historic
and gorgeous Wesley Memorial Church. We rehearsed earlier
in the day, took a well deserved break at Pizza Express, then
returned for our performance.