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Casalmaggiore (Part 2 of 3)

I woke up the next morning, shattered but feeling truly alive! I think this was the day it really sunk in, that I was performing and studying in such beautiful surroundings. I finally had time to take stock of my surroundings and appreciate all that was happening. Indeed, I took time out to explore the streets of Casalmaggiore and take in the atmosphere. It is remarkable, the beauty of the buildings, and something so synonymous with Italians is proven so true here. They really don't have a care in the world!! It's fantastic! You find yourself even in the busiest of times totally relaxed thanks to the incredibly laid back atmosphere.

I forgot to mention in part 1 my first lesson with Sung Won Yang, my professor for the couse. he only arrived that day, and I had the fortune to meet him as he arrived and we had a pleasant catch up (As a regular visitor to the Royal Academy of Music, I have met him a number of times before). He scheduled me a lesson in the afternoon the same day, which turned out to be barely two hours before my concert. It was incredibly reassuring to hear that he could really notice the progress I have made since we last met. However, like any good teacher in my opinion, he spent little time dwelling on this triumph and swiftly moved on to what happens next. I have always noticed in Sung Won's teaching that he is incredibly aware of how each muscle works and the importance of the relaxation of ALL the muscles in the body. Of course, on some level we are all aware of this, but he has this art down to a tee. He has done many great things with me on this front before, but the lesson this day, was rather special. Within 5 minutes he had gotten me totally relaxed and for the briefest of moments I believed I could have been Rostropovich! Ok maybe not quite, but the difference in the sound was immeasurable. The sound instantly became so pure and reflective of what I wanted. Predictably it did not last long, as any change takes time, but I felt so inspired to work on this and as I'm writing this now, I have already felt a big change and am continuing on this path.

So on with the course! From this point onwards, I spent almost every night in the piazza with some of my new friends, many of whom I discovered I will be seeing a lot more of in London next year! I also imagine Bar Italia (Our regular spot) must love this festival, the amount of money spent over the 10 days I was there, must be at least 3 months at any other the time of year I am convinced! From the second day, I also started rehearsing chamber music and the music couldn't have been better. Enescu's octet is a masterpiece of the great composer's youth! It is a truly remarkable piece with hallmarks stamped in Enescu's unique style. It was naturally quite a challenge to put together such a hard piece in such a short space of time but one which was tackled with great determination! The other chamber music I would be performing is quite simply one of the most profound and otherworldly pieces that could ever be heard, Messaien's Quartet for the End of Time! I was very nervous about taking this on. With a piece of this stature, I felt it would be almost impossible in little over a week to put together this piece, and on a personal level, for me to play my part with the detail required. I have to say, though, despite my nerves on this, the group dynamic was FANTASTIC, we had great fun and got it together much better than I ever imagined would be the case! My greatest regret from this course is that I cannot play that with the same group of players again!

The only problem I encountered with the course, which could perhaps be addressed, is that there is a lack of practise space. Perhaps, although it goes against the Italian way :p they could organise schedules for the rooms a little better. At the moment there is the perfectly reasonable understanding that everyone needs to look after themselves, whereas Britain tends to look after everyone, so we no longer need to look after ourselves. Personally I prefer that about the Italians, but I think this fell apart a little bit when we couldn't find suitable rehearsal space quite regularly, and you accepted that at times you just couldn't practise. I didn't find this too much of a problem in the end as you quickly learn how to manage your time, and how to use the time which cannot be used for playing. It is definitely true that if you are capable of managing yourself this chaos does not matter nearly as much!

Part 3 coming next weekend... :) Sorry for the delay!

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