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DNN-ONLINE.DE :: May 15, 2012

Old and New Worlds: Curtis students play in Dresden

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

[Article in German]

They embody passion, precision, and, despite their youth, an already astonishing musical maturity. Students of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia belong to the crème de la crème of up-and-coming musical talent in the US. The young artists are now guests in Dresden and encountering a man for whom working with the next generation has long been dear to his heart. For Jan Vogler--cellist, artistic director, and musical citizen of the world--fostering young talent is also an explicit goal of the Dresden Music Festival.

In 2006, as the artistic director of the Moritzburg Festival, he founded an associated academy that attracts music students from all over the world every year. A few years ago, Vogler played together with the president of the Curtis Institute, the violist Roberto Díaz. That's where the idea originated to create a residency for the elite US music school's orchestra; the result can now be heard at the Dresden Music Festival. After the opening concert, Curtis musicians are also organizing a chamber music evening and a program with middle and high school students.

"They're meeting with Dresden music students; there will be master classes and other musical contacts," says Díaz. In this way the old and new worlds of music will be meeting in the coming days. On the one hand there will be traditional musical training, where a teacher in the protégées' major subject molds their approach to playing and each generation passes its "sounds" on to the next. On the other hand, there is broad education, in which students alternate between different teachers and spend a lot of time during their studies making music together. Curtis violinist Becky Anderson sums it up: "At German colleges of music, you normally play in a chamber music ensemble. That's the core of our training--we play in as many ensembles as possible and accumulate quite different experiences that way, each one invaluable."

Fellow cellist Gabriel Cabezas concurs: "I love my nice little cello department, sure. But I get my real inspiration through playing with my friends while quite varied professors teach us." Thus the Curtis Symphony Orchestra doesn't have a traditional, unmistakable orchestral sound, which some German orchestras are justifiably proud of. "The reason is: One quarter of the orchestra changes each year; new players are constantly joining. Some of the kids have no orchestra experience at all," Roberto Díaz explains. But one advantage is that the orchestra responds very quickly to the desires of the current conductor and can adapt to his or her sonic vision.

Díaz, a Curtis student till 1983 and professor of viola since 2000, champions a more holistic education for the music students at his institute. "Our students are supposed to spend a great deal of time reading and understanding music." Although many of the school's applicants already have the highest level of technical proficiency, during their studies it's important to develop individual ideas about phrasing and style. The institute gives the students as much creative latitude as possible for this. A new building was recently opened for practice and concentration. "A true paradise for musicians," says Vogler.

In Dresden the Curtis students will make music in the Frauenkirche, in the Messe, and in VW's "Gläserne Manufaktur". That's where they're performing a four-hour chamber music marathon on Thursday, alternating between interpretations of new and old works. If you look and listen closely at the concerts, you'll be able to make out some instruments from legendary master violin makers Guadagnini, Guarneri, and Amati; Curtis alumni bequeathed them to the institute. This also keeps the top-notch education alive.

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