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Chamber Music activities at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

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The start of 2012/13 at Guildhall School of Music and Drama has been brimming with chamber music activity. Alongside our regular visiting quartets, Belcea and Endellion, improvisation workshops with David Dolan and performance presentation work with our drama school, the students have had some incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking masterclasses with guest artists Erich Hobarth, Ferenc Rados, and new permanent faculty member Levon Chilingirian. Last year’s brilliant Fellowship ensemble, the Heath Quartet, also continued to visit the school to give masterclass sessions as part of their professional development scheme.

Two very successful teaching and coaching exchange trips have taken place. Our school of WBP sent a wind Quintet to Gottenburg to receive coaching. In Strings, Alasdair Tait and Louise Hopkins accompanied the Trio Isimsiz to Mozarteum in Salzburg. While they gave masterclass, the trio received a week of inspiring teaching from Mozarteum faculty, including Wolfgang Redik and Thomas Riebl.

There are more than fifty regular groups ranging from the more traditional String Quartets and Piano Trios to mixed ensembles such as Clarinet Trios, 'Schubert Octet' groups and ensembles with harp, in addition to a number of project-based ensembles. Much emphasis is placed on the challenges of organisation within groups and the importance of efficient rehearsal techniques, since the demands on the individual while studying are inevitably high and multi-faceted.

The first in a series of annual "Viola Days" at the Guildhall resulted in the creation of a dozen viola ensembles, from duos to octets, providing not only a chance to showcase the versatility of the viola students at the GSMD but also to highlight the strength and depth of repertoire for viola ensemble. Such works also offered the chance for students and coaches to work both on instrument-specific issues as well as chamber music skills in a way that is not normally possible with mixed ensembles.

With an average of two days per week of visiting chamber music coaching and masterclasses, the term proved one of the busiest ever; it also marked a new level of intensity of chamber music provision for double bassists at the Guildhall, with the formation of a number of bass ensembles and coaching sessions with bass emphasis working on chamber reductions of Haydn Symphonies.

Student performances have included three high-profile concerts in the Barbican Centre main hall – wind music of Mozart and string/piano music of Dvorak and Schumann – and a full day devoted to the vocal and chamber music of Catalan composers (Montsalvatge, Toldra, Mompou)

Overall, the most intensive and exciting term yet!