The Autumn Gathering at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre came to a splendid conclusion Sunday, 11 Dec 2016, with a final wave of ensemble lessons, an informal information meeting providing an admirably concise but detailed update on current issues from Chairwoman Marje Lohuaru and Secretary/Treasurer Piret Väinmaa, a lovely final concert and then a concluding reception bathed in sunlight from the panoramic windows on the 4th floor of the Academy. Students participated not only from EAMT, but also from the Heino Eller Tartu Music College, Tallinn Music High School, Juozas Naujalis Music Gymnasium (Kaunas) and, for the first time, from the Xenia Chamber Music Course (Italy). As is usual, more than 10 professors - from Italy, Portugal, the UK, France, Poland, Cyprus and Lithuania - provided masterclasses with an impressive list of student ensembles playing a broad selection of repertoires and genres: in the three days there were well over 60 lessons. The concerts also featured an especially interesting collaboration between the Xenia Course quartet and a quartet from Kaunas, who came together to perform the first movement of Mendelssohn's Octet; the remaining three movements were expertly played by an octet of students from Tallinn.
The opening student concert featured works of the Gathering's guest speaker, composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, who in addition to speaking at length about his career and compositional process provided a fascinating performance class with the two student ensembles playing his music. Still more works of Tüür were then performed brilliantly the following evening in the Swedish St Michael Church by the Gathering's resident ensemble Yxus. Members of Yxus also invited participating student ensembles to attend a workshop/rehearsal focusing on the iconic minimalist masterpiece, Terry Riley's 'In C'. This was the first time this kind of experiment had been attempted at an ECMTA meeting, and the response from students was inspiring. After some hesitation, the students from Estonia, Italy and Lithuania grew more and more confident, and continued playing long after they had been informed that the session was over!
Returning after a very well-received lecture and workshop at the General meeting in Warsaw, Professor Eugenijus Laurinaitis delivered an magisterial analysis of ECMTA members' responses to his questionnaire on chamber music teaching, placing our pedagogical concerns and challenges in the context of scientific understanding of communication and learning. Members then participated in a lively and stimulating group discussion on issues of communication with students, as well as questions of pedagogy and the role that chamber music teaching and activity can contribute to a young person's development. Two Estonian psychologists, colleagues from Professor Laurinaitis' previous work in Estonia, were also present, and expressed interest in developing and expanding on these reflections.
Members Forum talks included a presentation of the Kuopio Conservatoire in anticipation of the upcoming Annual ECMTA Spring meeting (check the website for details!), an update on activities in the chamber music department at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, an introduction to the highly successful new Lied-Academy of Finland, the announcement of an upcoming competition for duos with piano in Warsaw, an exciting account of the Grand Parade of Musicians organized by the Lithuanian Musicians' Union, a report on the life and music of Dinos Constantinides, and a fascinating résumé of recent research on potential theoretical references useful for the analysis of communication and interaction between musicians in the rehearsal of contemporary aleatoric and improvised music. A final presentation was added on Sunday, which included an impassioned demonstration of strategies we can all employ to encourage non-musical audiences to understand the relevance of classical music to contemporary life.
In summary, we can say that content, variety, timing, preparation, presentation, participation and support all worked together in harmony! Many thanks to our devoted colleagues at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre for the absolutely perfect realization of the Gathering and for your exceptionally warm and relaxed hospitality.
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