The 15th SICMF was just as fabulous as all those Walter and I attended in previous years.
We again bought a pass and attended all concerts in the Endler and all weekend ones in the Fismer Hall. We witnessed every single masterclass and enjoyed all conversations.
Entering the foyer was like coming home. Nicky, Hennie and Lettie waved at us and it did not take long that some of the chamber musicians greeted us like old friends. We exchanged impressions, thoughts and comments with strangers, liked to talk to students and took numerous photos during the masterclasses which I mailed to some participants late after the 20:00 concert.
We especially enjoyed the “Guest Ensemble Lunch Hour and Afternoon Concerts” with the exception of that given by the PRIZM Wind Quartet which was so disappointing that some members of the audience decided that it was the last one they had attended at the Fismer. We, however, did not give up and were rewarded by the Baltic Neapolis Academy String Quartet in the afternoon – these four girls from Poland were breath-taking. Some of the “Student Ensemble Concerts” were very good, some were a bit irritating when groups or participants were swopped around without any announcement. We eventually decided to stop attending the ‘Student Ensemble Concerts”, mainly for the reason that we could not cope with everything on offer and needed a break between “Masterclass” and “In Conversation With”. We are (very) senior citizens after all…
The “Masterclasses” fascinate me although I have to admit that my knowledge of and talent for music is double zero. I allow myself simply to enjoy it. And because I am so ignorant it means a lot to me that via the coaching and explaining done by the respective musician music is somehow put into words. And words I do understand, so a door has been opened to me. Another aspect which interests me as a former teacher/lecturer is the method how suggestions and instructions are brought across. Judging from that point of view, Juan-Miguel Hernandez got my highest mark. In order to correct a student’s grip on the bow of her viola he lifted a music stand, held it in horizontal position above her head and suggested she was standing in a moving train and had to stabilize her position by holding firmly onto the rail. The result was a self-experienced understanding of gravity and which fingers had actually been used to have a firm enough grip. When the student applied this to her bow and began to play the viola even I noticed the different resonance. Bravo!
Listening to “In Conversation with…” is always a pleasure. It is gratifying to get to know the individual musicians and hear about their beginnings mostly in a foreign country, their inspiration and aspiration, their love for music and their passion to pass it on to others. Some conversations were humorous, some serious but all meaningful. I sympathized with Alissa Margulis who ran out of questions to ask the rather stubborn Boris Brovtzyn and who – although without succeeding – even stretched out to the universe to get at least one satisfying answer. Her reward of a bottle of wine was well deserved!
The “Faculty Concerts” were all outstanding. I liked the growing introduction of modern music in combination with one or two ‘classical’ pieces to keep conservative listeners happy. The programme note ‘South African Première’ made me proud to be present at an event like this. The ‘world première’ of “Makeda” had raised high expectations in me after having read newspaper articles and especially listened to Neo Muyanga himself. I am sad to say that I did not really enjoy the performance as much as I had expected to. Everybody whom I asked agreed with me for various reasons although the enthusiastic standing ovation seemed to prove our disappointment wrong.

It was a pleasure to recognize nearly each member of the two “Festival Symphony Orchestras” and to acknowledge the hard work everybody must have put in to present such successful concerts. My love is, however, chamber music.
Although I was not sure if a young musician would get a special reward my secret choice was Jeffery Armstrong all along. And how glad I was for him that he eventually was chosen to receive it.
Congratulations to everybody who made this 15th SICMF such a success!
And before I conclude: My biggest surprise was that – after my ongoing moaning – the gap between the two brown curtains in the Fismer Hall was eventually closed. Thank you!


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