Symposium 2006 - Concerts that have stuck in everyone's minds
by Rachel Williamson, UK
This year was the 15th year of the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium in Germany, ran by Thomas Kirchhoff. The festival attracted 165 active and 28 passive participants, from 49 countries, 29 of which were from England! Participants came from far and wide, including Japan, China, and Australia and from all over Europe - Sweden to Greece and Israel. There was neither age boundary nor ability boundary. There was a girl of 8 years old and participants that ranged from beginners to breaching into a performing career.
The festival wasn't only aimed at soloists, there were ensembles too; mainly duo's and quartets that took part in master classes. Teachers for the classes included the Amadeus Guitar Duo, Tom Johnson, Gerald Garcia, David Russell and many more. David Russell was amazing, he has a superhuman understanding of music, the capacity he has to be able to express this in words for us mere mortals to understand is astonishing. He has the deepest respect and patience towards any student, and the advice that he gives is so detailed yet so clear for us to understand and remember. When he gave his classes, his teaching is very fluent and he expresses himself carefully so much that you don't realise the amount of information that you have just gained, its incredible. Marther Masters was very inspiring, she had great ideas, and she was kind and very encouraging. As a female player myself it was fantastic to have a lesson with her to get a female's view on my playing. She knows how to get the 'man out of you', to give you're playing that extra 'umph'! It's similar with Laura Young, a very powerful woman. She went into great detail with her classes and pushes you to get your highest level of playing. Many people have said after their lesson with her they felt much more confident with the piece they played and in they're playing generally.
Andrew York was quite different to a lot of the teachers in Iserlohn, he had a feeling of 'freeness' and not only suggesting one solution but also giving many possibilities and freedom to think followed his silent listening and thinking. There was one amazing little girl that was at this festival - Kitty. She was an 8 year old from China, I sat in on her lesson with Gerald Garcia, it was astonishing to watch what this little girl can do, and Gerald in return was great with her. Others and I have learnt things for my own teaching benefits from this lesson.
Gerald also conducted a work he composed 'Pieta' for choir and large guitar ensemble. There was also smaller ensemble which played Faure's Pavane conducted by Frank Gerstmeier. Both of these works were performed in the student concert on the last night of the festival. There was a concert performed every night of the festival in the church 'Oberste Stadtkirche Iserlohn' in Iserlohn by one or several artists. Almost all of the concerts were sold out, David Russell with 480 and L.A.G.Q with 650, causing the concert to move venue into the theatre Parktheatre Iserlohn. There were four concerts that have stuck in everyone's minds. David Russell's concert was amazing, it took everyone in the audience to a place where the guitar was now made easy, and he played so effortlessly that everyone forgot how hard his repertoire actually was! It was a great choice of program, ranging from Renaissance to 20th Century. The Eden-Stell Duo were very entertaining. They have a great stage presence, along with wonderful technique and a huge variety of sound. They demonstrate how far you can go in making different ambience: from serious music (Bach, and Bowers) to really hilarious moments further in the Brouwer.
The Duo Bandini-Chicchiaretta was new to a few others and myself, the balance they create with their instruments is truly amazing, and they have so much drive and energy. In the slower works that they performed the Bandoneon (accordion) produced long, drawn out beautiful melodies - this was very moving and the atmosphere in the church changed to a more emotional level. This duo is so expressive in their playing and extremely musical, the audience was pulled right in. The last concert of the series was by the L.A.G.Q, this I think was the most memorable. As for a lot of people, it was my first time in seeing these guys perform in concert and it blew me away. They had a really interesting and well-balanced program. I don't only speak for myself when I say it's the first concert I've been to with four encores and three times standing ovation. Need I say anymore?
Dale and Thomas have created a great festival, and it was the most organized event I have been to. We had a trip to a local cave, which was great. It was very interesting; it showed us part of the country and was a great bonding session for the people at the festival. The staff at the academy were so friendly and helpful, they couldn't have done anything more for us. The food was very good, very healthy and more than you could ask for. There was always a 'tea and cake' (luxurious cake!) break at 3:30, which I think everyone attended! Every evening after the concerts we walked back to the academy and had 'parties'. They went on until all hours, with a lot of laughs and entertaining music, which everyone danced to. There wasn't a moment to be missed at this festival!
The value of this festival is fantastic! I have never been to one that is such great value. For only € 460 / € 300 each student receives four individual 45 minute lessons (with teachers of own choice), all your meals, an ensuite room, finger aerobics workshop with Dale Kavanagh. Ensembles, lectures, and all the evening concerts! But what u don't pay for are the friendships you make, and the people you meet - some of which are your hero's, this experience is priceless and is not to be missed.
Next festival will be held from July 29th to August 5th, 2007. Web site (www.guitarsymposium.com) will be online from November 1st on. The amazing player's and teacher's roster include: Pepe Romero, Eliot Fisk, The Katona Twins, Roland Dyens, Dale Kavanagh, Duo Jeremy Jouve & Judicael Perroy, Newman-Oltman duo, The Baltic Quartet, The Tantalus Quartet, Laura Young, Gerald Garcia, Adam Holzman, Eli Kassner, Frank Gerstmeier, Andrea Vettoretti, Ulrich Stracke, Hanns-Werner Huppertz, Tom Johnson, Roberto Limon and festival organiser Thomas Kirchhoff - more info alos at: firstname.lastname@example.org