personal charm, both as a player and as a teacher. He worked with us on developing a wider sense of tonal colour, a crucial requirement for Poulenc s

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1 The Yale School of Music Norfolk Chamber Music Festival was a most enriching musical experience. I have enjoyed every single day of the entire six weeks period and I would recommend the Festival to any young musician. It comprises a month and half of intensive practising, rehearsing, coaching and lessons. To put it in fewer words, it is a whole summer of glorious music-making. It was indeed a very rewarding time, albeit very exhausting. The facilities were absolutely outstanding. I had an individual practise studio with a Steinway Grand at my disposal. No need to book practise rooms, no need to queue for practise rooms, just an air-conditioned studio with a Steinway available all the time. I have never enjoyed such practise facilities anywhere in Europe at any other summer schools. We really had everything we needed: ample practise facilities, music library, two performance halls for day-to-day rehearsals and coachings and of course, the Music Shed. Built in 1906, the Shed is a proper concert venue seating 947 people. It is a very imposing hall rising between the old trees and dominating the large green fields. There is something truly special to know that you are performing in the same hall where Rachmaninov played his second Piano Concerto and where Fritz Kreisler dazzled audiences all those years ago. The standard of playing was very high. It was truly inspirational and motivational to work among such committed students from USA's top music colleges. My first ensemble performed Poulenc s Sextet for Piano and Winds. My colleagues were mainly students from Yale University that were joined by a flautist from Rice University. It was a strong start with intensive rehearsing the next day after I arrived. Our first coaching was with clarinettist Richard Stolzmann, great performer with a huge charisma and

2 personal charm, both as a player and as a teacher. He worked with us on developing a wider sense of tonal colour, a crucial requirement for Poulenc s music. He was one of the most intransigent teachers I had the whole Festival, but I was very grateful because under his teaching, the group gelled really strongly. Our second coach was pianist Peter Frankl, very different approach, but just as charismatic and inspirational. With two such experienced coaches, no wonder the Poulenc Sextet performance was a great success.

3 As part of my Fellowship, I was involved in various projects outside the main activity of the Festival. Norfolk was host to a group of music students from the public schools in New Haven. I was very happy to teach two bright young pupils that were preparing a Schubert piano duet for their school concert. The second group I was part of performed Brahms Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano. I was lucky to be coached by the amazing Boris Berman, the professor that I met in Holland in 2013 and with whom I wanted to study again so much. He was truly great on the Brahms. He is a mountain of knowledge and experience and in his teaching method he blends musicianship and interpretational advice with clear-cut technical indications. The Brahms Trio was also coached by Clara Fiedler (from the Vienna-based Leschetizky Piano Trio) and Mark Steinberg (first violin of the Brentano String Quartet). Mrs Fiedler has a very practical approach which was very welcomed. Mark Steinberg made repeated references to historical documentation and literary sources in his teaching. It was so stimulating to have a coach that would send you home to look for a particular book, recording, quote or story that he mentioned during the lesson and that would most certainly throw a different light on the piece that you are studying. His enthusiasm for chamber music was absolutely

4 contagious. For the Brahms Trio, I was joined by a horn player from Yale University and a violinist from University of Vienna.

5 One of the most enjoyable pieces I studied at Norfolk was the Francaix Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano. I had such a great time discovering this composer whose music is such a bubbly combination of wit and elegance, with traces of everything from classical music to jazz and cabaret. I had to privilege to work on this piece with oboists Stephen Taylor and Humbert Lucarelli and bassoonist Frank Morelli. The last weeks at Norfolk meant Schumann s D minor Piano Trio and Reinecke s Trio for Oboe, Horn and Piano. Schumann was a great discovery, it is such a powerful piece of music. I was coached by pianists Wey-Yi Yang (student of Boris Berman) and Joan Panetti, a pianist and composer who studied with the legendary Wilhelm Kempff and Olivier

6 Messiaen. Mrs Panetti s coachings had an analytical approach, something I have always enjoyed tremendously. She always made us aware of the various compositional techniques employed by the composer to express different feelings. My partners for the Schumann were a violinist from Yale University and a cellist from Juilliard School. The centre of life at Norfolk was of course music, all the lessons, rehearsals and concerts. I also enjoyed the Festival from a social point of view. We all went along very nicely with each other. There was an atmosphere of friendship and support between the students and that is so important, as sometimes this kind of summer music school environment can nurture a very destructive level of competition between the musicians. The large green areas around the Festival premises, the woods, the pond, the brook were places we enjoyed together. We played Frisbee and football, went for runs, swam in Tobey Pond and picnicked next to the brook. There was never a moment I felt lonely at Norfolk.

7 Needless to say, accommodation and food were very good. We all felt spoiled by the residents of Norfolk who generously hosted us in their homes and treated us really well. It was a most valuable experience and I shall never forget my time in Norfolk. I gained a lot of knowledge and experience. I felt so motivated to practise hard and improve my playing. I think it was partly the place, it is such a small, peaceful, quiet village. There is nothing to enjoy but green woods and great music. What else could one wish for? It is also the people that made a difference, everybody including students, faculty and staff. They all contributed to the success of the Festival.

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