Defying the recent financial crisis, the 7th Annual Meeting of the ECMTA took place at European University of Cyprus April 12-15, 2013. [see complete programme] By every measure, the meeting was highly inspirational and stimulating, with 29 delegates from 12 countries, 11 presentations in the Members Forum, 13 masterclass teachers, a cutting-edge, international guest panel focusing on the Future of Chamber Music Practice, and a brilliant keynote address by AEC Chief Executive Jeremy Cox on chamber music pedagogy as a paradigm for student-centred learning. Cypriot composer Faidros Kavallaris gave a deeply moving masterclass with his music played by students from Tallinn, and also presented a conference on his chamber music in celebration of 40 years of career.
At the inaugural concert, European University of Cyprus Rector Andreas G. Orphanides made an inspiring address, highlighting both the pedagogical and historic importance of organizing such an event on his campus. Special thanks to our host Yiannis Miralis, Associate Professor of Music Education and Saxophone, and new member of the ECMTA board, for his gracious welcome and impeccable organization.
The Future of Chamber Music Practice panel took a look at the question from pedagogical, professional, artistic, and commercial perspectives, and included presentations from Monika Henschel (Verband Deutscher Streichquartette), Catherine LeBris (CLB Artists Management), Dominic Sewell (Pro Cordo, UK), and Sean Gregory (Head of Creative Learning, Guildhall/Barbican). These intersecting presentations demonstrated that even as changes in society and the arts lead to a transformation of some aspects of traditional chamber music activity, the fundamental and essential elements of chamber music practice provide indispensible models and skills for future developments. Marje Lohuaru (Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre) moderated the session, which, judging by the animated discussion which followed, could easily have continued through the evening.
For the Festival of Student Chamber Music, student ensembles from European University of Cyprus were joined in masterclasses and the three evening concerts by ensembles from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, the F. Chopin University of Music, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Cyprus, and the Nicosia Music High School. Many of the masterclasses were also attended and taught in collaboration with both local teachers and ECMTA delegates, in a spirit of mutual respect and appreciation that is a core value of the association. Recital programmes included music of Cypriot composers F. Christis, J. Petridis, A. Orphanides, and F. Kavallaris, as well as a broad range of chamber music for varied instruments and styles.
The weekend's musical activities were punctuated by the conviviality that is the trademark of ECMTA meetings. After Saturday night's concert, buses brought students, teachers, and guest speakers to the old city centre of Nicosia for a traditional mezze banquet at the Xefoto Tavern, where a seemingly endless succession of savory and sweet delicacies provided a culinary introduction to the island's Mediterranean culture. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was when our Cypriot hosts, led by Faidros Kavallaris and Yiannis Miralis, burst into a rousing medley of song; in no time, aided by fine wine, all of the delegates were singing in Greek.
On Sunday morning, after Faidros Kavallaris's conference, the Ordinary Meeting of the association proceeded with the closing of the previous Board's mandate. Elected in Mannheim, the outgoing Board and officers oversaw a three-fold increase in membership, the stabilization of the finances of the association with the creation of a buffer fund, the organization of meetings in Gdansk, Ascoli Piceno, Amsterdam, Rome, Kazan, Tallinn, and Nicosia, and numerous actions of media partnership and communication. Vice-Chairman and Treasurer Keijo Aho provided the financial report and strategic plan for the coming years, and Chairman Evan Rothstein officially thanked the outgoing board for their excellent stewardship of the association. Both the financial report and the activities reports were approved unanimously. The Ordinary Meeting closed with elections of the Chairman and the new Board, whose 9 members once again provide an excellent geographical representation and a good balance between continuity and new input [see below].
On Sunday afternoon, the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR), an NGO for intercultural dialogue based in the UN monitored buffer zone, provided delegates with a tour which included a brief visit accross the divide line. This more serious moment of the weekend was a necessary reminder that even as we met, many nations united by a common cultural purpose, there remains much work to be done to breach the barriers created by misunderstanding and violence.
Many thanks to Members' forum presenters Yiannis Miralis, Annini Tsiouti, Francis-Nectarios Guy, Maja Nosowska, Liesbeth Kok, Katarzyna Jankowska-Borzykowska, Dalia Balsyte, Ksenia Bonduryanskaya, Blandine Côte, Petras Kunca, and Michael Tsalka.
Thanks also to Masterclass teachers Sampsa Köntinnen, Alexander Bonduryansky, Keijo Aho, Gunta Sproge, Janis Maleckis, Maja Nosowska, Roberto Galletto, Faidros Kavallaris, Natalia Sakkos, Dalia Balsyte, Krzysztof Sperski, Michael Tsalka, and Katarzyna Jankowska-Bozykowska.
Our thanks also to Cypriot teachers who supported their students' participation in the Congress: Boris Alexandrov, Sona Gargaloyan, Christina Athinodorou, Yiannis Miralis, Maria Chimonidou, Giovanni Galetti, Evis Sammoutis, Marianna Suri and Peter Gospodinov.
Special thanks to our student performers: Andreas Papadopoulos, Elena Karapataki, Marilena Vanezou and Kyriaki Venizelou, Maria Avraam, Marilena Iacovou, Nikos Kkoushi, Christodoulos Christodoulou, Vicky Siafaka, Anastasia Motiti, Maria Avraam, Nikoletta Pagouna, Stalo Savva, Nektaria Stasopoulou, Tomasz Kumięga, Misha Kozlowski, Vukan Zarkovic, Kriniο Troullou, Vangelis Patsalidis, Lambis Pavlou, Froso Papaioannou, George Mitsiggas, Kaia Voitka, Johannes Välja, Grete Jädal, Katažyna Narkevič , Kristina Jaskytė Šliapikienė, Jana Klevicka, Mara Botmane, and Roksana Kenzejeva.
The entire event was a marvelous demonstration of intercultural dialogue through music making and learning, promoting fellowship and solidarity across borders.
More photos can be found in the Photo Gallery.