A video (and Spanish language interview!) of the Side-By-Side concert, featuring players from the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra alongside El Sistema’s Sinfónica Juvenil de Caracas (and me) playing Ritmos Ciganos at Milan’s famous La Scala.
We’ve now been in Milan at the SEYO Summer Camp for three full days (and when I say ‘full’, I really do mean that – they have been three long, intense, full-on, exhausting days!), and it really is a fascinating experience.
A few things have mainly struck me so far… The standard of the students participating is very high – in the advanced orchestra, where I am working with the percussion section, we have been able to focus on little details, points of technique, performance advice, and other minutiae, almost right from the start. The students are all excellent players already, and this makes for very interesting, dynamic sectional rehearsals with a lot of ideas being thrown around and a real rehearsal process being very much in evidence!
The incredible passion and enthusiasm of all the teaching staff is also plain to see. Given the number of different countries participating, and the fact that as a team of tutors, many of us had never met each other before and we have just been thrown together from different Sistema-inspired projects across all of Europe (each with their own, slightly different, customs and ways of doing things!), I think we have gelled pretty well. From my point-of-view, I feel privileged to be working alongside a fantastic percussion tutor in sectionals, and under conductors in full rehearsals who really know what they want from a piece of music and have a vision for the performance. I think this mix of nationalities and backgrounds is perfect for an experience like this, and means that we (the tutors) end up learning lots too.
Finally, it is abundantly clear what an amazing opportunity this is for all the students who have come on the course! The chance to learn from some top professionals from all over Europe, and to play big, exciting orchestral music, is enormous. As is the chance to be inspired by the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (part of the El Sistema programme, with some children as young as six), performing in the breath-taking setting of La Scala.
Thanks to the hectic schedule here, this is the first time I’ve been able to post any updates – bar uploading a few iPhone pictures ‘on the fly’! – and I don’t know when I’ll be able to write anything properly about it again. I shall try to post more details when I get an opportunity, though. So after another very long day of rehearsals, and with another early start tomorrow morning… Goodnight!