Friday, July 1, 2011

Music11 Last Day!

Our last day here at Music11 was a wonderful culmination of this festival's musical activities. In the afternoon over half of our participant performers played in masterclasses for eighth blackbird. Since we had so many performances, we divided forces, having piano, percussion, and voice in Bartok Hall, and strings and woodwinds in the Salon. We heard some fantastic performances and wonderful ideas for improvement. Because the members of eighth blackbird have experience with so many different kinds of music, they have insights into many aspects of the performing process. These masterclasses were so successful that many of us wished that we had held more of them, and earlier in the festival so that everyone could have seen one another perform towards the beginning of our time here. I think we'll be holding more events like this in next year's installment of MusicX, because it was so enriching for everyone involved.

The final concert was a rewarding summation of the various aspects of this festival. It showcased the participant composers and performers by their contributions to the concert: Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree, Amy Kirsten's joujou, and Ruben Naeff's Fill the Present Day with Joy. What a beautiful culmination of all of the work and inspiration that went into the making of this festival - from the first acceptance letters our participants received, to the last notes of each piece they composed and performed for Music11. It showcased composer-in-residence David Lang with his pieces wed and these broken wings. He has been a wonderful presence at our festival for the last week. We greatly appreciate his first-rate musicianship, his creativity, his knack for challenging and guiding young musicians in their work, and his lovely personality. It showcased ensemble-in-residence eighth blackbird through their performances of the two Lang pieces, plus Philip Glass' Music in Similar Motion, and Stephen Hartke's new violin and piano piece Netsuke. In particular, it showcased eighth blackbird violinist Matt Albert who gave his last performance with the ensemble during this concert. As Joel Hoffman observed while speaking at the concert, Matt Albert's musicianship and personality is characterized by generosity and courage. Matt is generous in his expressive playing, his mentoring of younger musicians, and his friendships. He is courageous in his constant drive to discover new music, take risks, and embrace the unknown. This courage has lead him to explore new opportunities in his career, which is why he is now departing from eighth blackbird. We will certainly miss him; we wish him many blessings for this new step in his career; we know that his courage and generosity will ensure him spectacular success. As this festival draws to a close, we are also saying goodbye to our general manager Michael Ippolito, who has been an indispensable part of MusicX for years. He is a composer, administrator, and friend of the absolute first rate. As with Matt, we fully support Michael in his next step and look forward to hearing about what he accomplishes in his post-MusicX career.

One of my very favorite things about this festival is that it doesn't really end at the end of our two weeks here. It was amazing to see how many wonderful friendships and collaborations were forged during our time in Switzerland. I for one am already looking forward to embarking on upcoming projects that resulted from the friendships I just made in the last two weeks - and I know that I am not alone in this. It seems like everywhere I turned, I heard people plotting and scheming about exciting artistic endeavors for the near future. To have not only a fantastic group of people, but also an inspiring place, seems to be a key part of the recipe for inspiration. I believe that there is something about this gorgeous place that helped us all take a real break from our normal lives and open ourselves up to new dreams and aspirations. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for an outstanding time together - and let's keep in touch!

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