Symposium 2005 - Unforgettable moments
by Tania D'Hoest, Holland
I am very pleased to write a report about the guitarsymposium in Iserlohn that took place from the 13th till the 21st of August 2005. For me it was the third time I participated and every time I made the right choice. With 145 students from over 30 countries incl. Australia, Iran, USA, Canada, Korea, Israel and all over Europe took part in the courses.... and teachers from all over the world, the festival is very international. Music shops took their stock with them to give the participants the possibility to buy sheet music, CD's, guitar tools, etc. Twenty five guitar builders i.e. Allessandro Marseglia (Italy), Mario Gropp (Germany), Thomas Fredholm (Sweden), Antonio Scandurra (Catania), Roland Scharbatke (Iserlohn), showed their hand made guitars. Everybody listened carefully to the details of their explanation and the hallway trembled by the sound of all these guitars being tried by the students.
But first of all there is Thomas Kirchhoff, who's efforts are unrivalled. He is a genius in organizing this festival. He welcomes every student and teacher personally, he helps them out with rooms, lessons, etc. and he treats them as his guests. The first evening he was welcoming us with a real Iserlohner beer! During the week nothing escaped his severe eye. "Don't forget to come to dinner", "ensemble rerearsal in 10 minutes", "everybody comes to the lecture", "please help us with cars for the concerts" and so on.... Sometimes we saw D'Addario strings flying through the dining room, catch or get killed. And together with all that he was even one of the teachers.
There is one group of teachers who come back very often, some of them every year, other come there for the first time. Dale Kavanagh (Canada), Gerhard Reichenbach (Germany), Tom Johnson (USA), Amadeus Guitar Duo (Canada/Germany), Gerald Garcia (England), Frank Gerstmeier (Germany), Eli & Ann Kassner (Canada), Ulrich Stracke (Germany), but also Costas Cotsiolis (Greece), Aniello Desiderio (Italy), Carlo Marchione (Italy), Jorge Cardoso & Liliana Rodriguez (Argentina), Laura Young (Canada), Kaltchev Guitar Duo (Bulgaria), Waldemar Gromolak (Poland), Karin Schaupp (Australia), Saffire Guitar Quartet (Australia), David Leisner (USA), Andrea Vettoretti (Italy), Tilman Hoppstock (Germany), Jorgos Panetsos (Greece), Jaime M. Zenamon (Brazil), Goran Krivokapic (Croatia), Massimo delle Cese (Italy) and Stephen Thachuk (Canada). Each of them has an own personality, his own way of teaching and playing. This is very interesting, not only to play in the lessons, but also to visit the lessons as a listener.
Lectures given by Seth Josel from New York and Heiki Matlik from Estonia were very interesting. Seth Josel made a presentation about new chamber music with guitar. The purpose was to demonstrate a fairly broad spectrum of style and aesthetics, mostly having to do with established composers in the both the American as well as European tradition of Avant-Garde as Sidney Corbett, Richard Barrett, Jan Willcock. Heiki Matlik told us about Johann Baptiste Maximilian Reger. In his short life, he composed more than 130 opuses for different ensembles. Inspired by Bach's music, Reger composed his three suites for violoncello op.131 in 1915.
And than there are the finger aerobics with Dale Kavanah. In a very active and encouraging way she was teaching the finger technique. In the morning it is not so evident to play these incredible fast, slow, complicated and finger braking, very effective exercises, but with Dale's sense of humour and patience everybody could manage.
In the evening, every day, one, two or three concerts took place in the Oberste Stadtkirche of Iserlohn, attended by audiences of 350 to 450 people. We always looked forward to these concerts. Many amazing soloists such as Costas Cotsiolis, Andrea Vettoreti, Massimo delle Cese, Dale Kavanagh, Tilman Hoppstock, David Leisner, Waldemar Gromolak, K. Schaupp, Laura Young and Aniello Desiderio, played very different concerts. They varied from a powerfull, expressive sometimes aggressively, virtuosic way of playing to serenity, subtlety and an intense, intimate atmosphere. Not only soloists, but also ensembles gave us unforgettable moments in the beautiful church. There was the Kaltchev Guitar Duo who made a big listening silence in the astonished audience. The singer Liliana Rodriguez and guitarist Jorge Cardoso were fascinating and moving. The Australian Saffire Quartet was impressive. The way they wake our imagination is incredible. They were not afraid of playing several guitars or different styles of music. The practical joke mustn't be missing in that week, in fact we were waiting for it and indeed. On a certain moment a sort of mafia guy's entered the church searching for eventual danger. They body searched some people and when everything seemed ok, we saw they were bodyguards. We realised that we had very important visit of Pope Tom Johnson I. He entered the holy church and blessed us... turning out to be a mix-up of Iserlohn and Cologne ...
Saturday, there was the very high level student concert. Good students in the final concert were Aimee Pichee from Canada playing R. Dyens Saudade No 3 and Johannes Möller from Sweden who played La cathedral, he will give a duo concert flute & guitar next year.
During the concert all the teachers, the staff of Haus Ortlohn and all the others who helped to make the week perfect, got a big thank you from Thomas and the audience. Two ensembles were conducted by Jaime Zenamon and Gerald Garcia. Jaime arranged the Gr'n Solo' of Sor for guitar orchestra. So he named it "Gr'n sinfonia". He thought many beginners without technique would be glad playing the very difficult sonata in ensemble without braking their fingers on it. So we had lots of fun. Before we could start playing, Gerald first helped Laura Young playing the flute in a most sexy outfit. For the second ensemble, Gerald arranged two songs, Sky Boat Song and Flight over Lulea. The first one he originally many years ago for his evening class in Oxford, her reworked it for a publication for Jan-Olof Eriksson as a 6 part piece, this year he added an obligato solo part for Frank Gerstmeier. The second piece was also written for Jan-Olof, but this time he added an electric bass part. Lulea is near the Arctic Circle and describes a flight over the frozen sea with criss cross tracks in the ice made by boats. His German explanation about the piece was fantastic.
When the concerts were finished, we all met in the bar, drank beers and wine and ate some snacks. There was no distance between teachers and students. The good and warm atmosphere is truely special in this festival. The festival took place in the inspiring park of Die Evangelische Akademie, Haus Ortlohn'. During the day you could take a walk in the garden or drink a cappuccino in the bar. The meals were fantastic and the staff was very kind to us. Thanks to them.
I'll come back here, that is for sure.