June 4th, 2012
Saturday means market day in Alba. Nearly one hundred small booths and tents line the streets selling everything from clothing to cookware. I decided to use this opportunity to seek out a pair of Italian style clothes (as I did the same thing while I was in China, three years ago) After an extensive search, I did find what I was looking for. About ninety percent of the market is geared toward women, so it was fairly difficult to find men’s clothing, but I did nevertheless. At 3pm we met at Chiesa di San Giuseppe to hear ‘Music Master’ Sylvano Bussotti speak. The lecture proved very trying for the 81 year old man as his thoughts seemed to constantly stray and overlap. Questions were left unanswered and instead replied with an unrelated story. It was hard to tell if the gentleman was simply too old to be ‘all there’ or if he was actually thinking on a level so far above us that he was hard to understand. In any case, the early evening concert was a ‘young artist’s lab’ featuring performances by many of the students from St. Mary’s College as well as Earlham College. Gounod’s Petite Symphony and a piece by Dvorak led nicely into the evening concert, which opened with ‘Phrase a trois’ by Sylvano Bussotti (a piece for string trio) followed by two Vaughn Williams pieces featuring the Romanian State Philharmonic Orchestra and St. Mary’s Chamber singers. It was an amazingly beautiful concert, to say the least.
There was a morning concert at Chiesa di San Giuseppe this morning, featuring solo violin and piano. Pieces by Grieg, Svendson, Prokofiev, and Kreisler were played. The performance could have been better, but also left us all with the vibe that this older violinist was once a much better performer. The early evening concert featured another student concert playing a few Klezmer tunes and pieces by Albrechtsberger, Beethoven, Mozart, and Copland. Immediately following was the evening concert with the Romanian State Philharmonic Orchestra playing pieces by Italian composers Sinigaglia and Colonna as well as Dvorak’s amazing eighth symphony. It was a great performance to wrap up an amazing festival with amazing performers from around the world.
June 3rd, 2012
Today, I awoke to prep for the normal meeting at La Brasilera. I decided to take a video of the walk from our hotel room to the café for pure memory sake. The nice ten minute walk through the main street of town to ‘The Flagship’ would serve for a nice reminder of the town itself. At the composition lecture, Giacomo Platini played a couple of his pieces that definitely had a stronger ‘20th century’ vibe about them. He also discussed his fascination with computer music and synthesized effects in recording. The afternoon concert today was a compilation of guest composer’s pieces. Gibson, McKinley and Farmer were on the docket as well as a John Adams piece. All were pieces for solo violin with piano accompaniment. Later, the evening concert featured our first orchestra pieces. Put on by the Romanian State Philharmonic Orchestra, the repertoire included Shostakovich, Chachaturian, Adashi, Bloch, and Prokofiev.
June 1st, 2012
Today, we had the usual morning trend of meeting at the flagship and traveling to the cafeteria for lunch. After lunch, we had our composition lecture today with Judah Adashi. We got to hear a beautiful solo marimba piece as well as his orchestra piece which is to be performed later in the week. Both were amazing works followed by some keen tips and insight into his process. Later, I went shopping with a few people from St. Mary’s College and bought a local brand of strawberry jam for my grandmother. I wanted to buy a pair of clothes for myself, but when the store we went to was showing prices on shirts around 70 Euros AT THE CHEAPEST, we bailed on that whole idea. The afternoon concert was put on by the Trio des Alpes performing two lengthier pieces by Dvorak and Ravel. After dinner at Duchessa (a pizza place in town), we attended the evening concert featuring the WienerKammer Symphony Ensemble performing Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert. The usual thunderous applause called for two encore performances.
May 31st, 2012
This morning we did not have a composition workshop, as our next new speaker, Mark Cook, wouldn’t be arriving until later in the day. Instead I planned to meet with Forest Toby (Earlham College) to find our way to the music shop in order to find out what percussion instruments we could possibly rent for the Klezmer performance on Saturday. We did find the store, but it was unfortunately during ‘siesta’, a time period during the day in which all of the stores close. This afternoon’s concert was a nice mix featuring a piece by Mark Cook (whom was in the audience), Stravinsky’s famous Octet, and the Creation of the World by Darius Milhaud. The Evening Concert was put on by a violin duet with a piano accompanist. The two played a handful of violin duets as well as solos by Frolov, Schubert, Brahms, Massenet, Saint-Saens, Sarasate, Shostakovich, and Monti. The concert quickly tied for my favorite thus far. The two were amazingly in sync with each other throughout calling for a standing ovation and two encores!
Today Jacob Smart (IUE) and I got up a bit early in order to grab some wi-fi before lunch. After hitting the usual communal cafeteria, we headed to our composition workshop to hear Mark Cook give a very in depth discussion about his career and compositional processes. He was able to give a lot of insight into how to press past ‘composer’s block’ and better understand our own musical drive. Today’s afternoon concert featured a Brass Ensemble performing pieces by Rossini, Ewald, Dukas, Mahler, and Vivaldi. For dinner, we ate at Hemingway which served a delicious two course meal with a couple of choices. I chose a salami plate which actually featured slices of various meats, and for my second dish, an alfredo pasta with ham and peas in it. The evening concert featured lengthier chamber music by Mozart, Kuhlau, and Schubert. The Shubert piece was easily thirty minutes alone, though, of course, performed wonderfully along with the others.
May 30th, 2012
Sunday….the day of rest….is what one would normally think, but, Sunday at an international music festival means more concerts! We awoke for a morning concert at Chiesa di San Giuseppe. This concert was put on by Eliza Garth on the Pianoforte performing 20th century works by Debussy, Cage, Cowell, and Satie. After this concert we had no composition class as the campus building was closed on Sunday. I was feeling a bit under the weather, so I rested until the midday concert that was also at Chiesa di San Giuseppe. This concert was a flute ensemble performing a wide variety of works including the notable ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ by Rimsky-Korsakov. It’s not very often that you get to see bass and contra-bass flute in concert, so I found it very enjoyable. Afterward we had dinner at the Vin Café, which was a notable experience, because, as I went to pay the bill for our table the café music was playing Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield which is most definitely not what one would consider ‘popular music’ but is a piece that I enjoy thoroughly nevertheless. For the evening concert, we made our way to the Chiesa di San Domenica for the chorale concert. I was really looking forward to this one, as I found out that they would be performing a couple of pieces by Eric Whitacre, whom I really admire. Sure enough, the concert turned out to be my favorite thus far and Cloudburst by Eric Whitacre even brought tears to my eyes. A standing ovation warranted three brief encores that were simply ‘best of’ moments of the concert. It was a grand performance indeed.
I slept in this morning until shortly before our composition lesson. On this day, Robert Gibson spoke to us and showed us a handful of his pieces. I learned very quickly that I really liked his style of composing, mainly his affinity for strong, yet short pieces. After the lesson, I went to ‘the flagship’ and grabbed a toast (which, in Italy, is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and some acqua naturale (water). After this, we prepared for the afternoon concert at Chiesa della Maddalena, which featured the Siren Woodwind Quintet performing works by Bozza, Poulenc, Ligeti, and Robert Gibson (yes, the same one from earlier). Afterward a few of us and several of the St. Mary’s students went out to a pizza place in town. Naturally, I had to order something unusual and so my pizza had pepperoni, ham, salami, mushroom, and egg on it. I hadn’t heard of egg on a pizza before, but, it sounded good and I was not disappointed. The evening concert consisted entirely of movie music performed by classical guitar, flute, and string trio. It was yet another great variety of music to add to the already wide selection in the festival.