Thanks to the generosity of the Kazan State Conservatory and its Director Rubin Abdullin, ECMTA delegates from Italy, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Estonia, the United Kingdom, and Russia were able to attend the ECMTA Autumn Gathering November 18-20 as part of the annual International Festival of Chamber Ensembles. The Festival is part of a tradition of "Ensemble Art" courses initiated in 1990 and directed for 15 years by Tatiana Gaidamovich (1918-2005), whose heritage was celebrated at this event. The invitation for ECMTA to attend the festival was encouraged and supported by Alexander Bonduryansky, in his role as Chairman of the ACM-IUM, which has supported the festival for many years.
47 student ensembles from 21 conservatories participated in the event, which included concerts, masterclasses, an ECMTA Members' Forum, and a Seminar on chamber music pedagogy led by Russian colleagues from five different schools. The concerts featured, in addition to the student ensembles and the Kazan Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, an impressive cast of distinguished guest artists: Michael Gantvarg, Alexander Bonduryansky, Rubin Abdullin, Andrey Kaminski, the Dutch pianist Frederic Voorn, and the piano duo Silivanova/Puryzhinskiy.
International relations and concert officer Helena Khakimova oversaw diligent and enthusiastic staff, students, teachers, and parents, not to mention a literal army of stage crew, concert presenters, technicians, translators, cafeteria personnel, drivers, and guides. Everything seemed to function perfectly according to a seemingly effortless rhythm. Dinara Galeeva, the Professor at Kazan State Conservatory who many of us had to pleasure to meet in Tallinn, served as gentle intermediary between ECMTA members and local teachers, as well as delivering a passionate and highly informative speech on the organization of chamber music instruction in Russia during the Teachers' Seminar.
Although each day was densely packed with teaching, speeches, and concerts, our hosts managed to find time for two guided tours of the city, which allowed delegates to discover and admire local architecture and learn more about the history of both the city and the region. It could be said that a great deal of the visit was devoted to cultural history, including the history of the International Festival itself and the chamber music programme in Kazan. During the meeting there were also many references to the celebrations in St Petersbourg for the 150 year anniversary of the founding of the conservatory there, the oldest in Russia.
Many thanks to ECMTA masterclass teachers Roberto Galletto, Keijo Aho, Alexander Bonduryansky, Anna Prabucka-Firlej, Krzysztof Sperski, Evan Rothstein, and Michael Tsalka; they joined our highly distinguished Russian colleagues Alla ZHOKHOVA (Saint Petersburg State Conservatoire) Irina ANASTASIEVA and Georgyi FEDORENKO (Gnesin Music Academy), contributing many generous hours of teaching. We were all impressed by the students' curiosity and open-mindedness, and so we are especially grateful to their teachers, who instilled in them this spirit of learning and love of chamber music so effectively, and who graciously accepted to share their students with us for a few hours.
Many thanks to Members' Forum participants – Milena Brents and Valeria Sheliapina, Roberto Galletto, Michael Tsalka, Dinara Galeeva, Alexander Bonduryansky, and Evan Rothstein - and the excellent translators and technicians who supported our presentations: without their assistance, there would have been much less hope of dialogue and mutual understanding. Music may be a universal language, but we have not yet learned to communicate all types of information without resorting to words!
Special thanks to our Russian colleagues from the Teachers' Seminar (some of whom did not actually have time to read their papers, but who have all been invited to publish their work on the ECMTA website): Zilya Julyakshina, Tatyana Sorokina, Olga Stepanova, Olga Pyatnitskaya, Tatyana Schikunova, and Alexander Maklygin. This seminar was especially informative and eye-opening for those of the ECMTA delegates less familiar with the history of chamber music instruction in Russia and the musical traditions of Tartarstan.
- O.P. Stepanova: Chamber-instrumental art of Tatar composers (in Russian | in English)
- O.A. Pyatnitskaya: Sematics of L. Beethoven's violin sonatas in the academic heritage of professor R.A. Saifullin (in Russian | in English)
There were of course many seemingly endless meals punctuated by innumerable toasts and speeches, all of them washed down with vodka, Armenian cognac, and wine. Our faithful colleague Maxim Puryzhinskiy translated every speech with precision and boundless good humour, even as the subjects and discourses became, under the influence of alcohol, at times somewhat surrealistic.
The overwhelming sentiment was one of mutual respect, of warmth and friendship extended unconditionally, and of a desire to collaborate and work together. At the Gala inaugural concert, Chairman Evan Rothstein praised the initiative of this festival and expressed gratitude on behalf of the ECMTA for the invitation to attend the meeting. He reminded the audience that "The ECMTA was founded in 2007 on the idea that the musical and human abilities developed through the practice of chamber music are a central and fundamental part of both musical training and personal development. We also wish to believe that the empathetic listening and understanding which is developed in chamber music can serve as important models for society. I would like to believe that events of this kind, in which many people of different backgrounds come together to listen to each other through music, show us the path to a future of greater harmony and mutual understanding."
For more photos, see the Photo gallery.