It’s already the fourth day of our London Sinfonietta Academy – an intensive week of workshops, masterclasses and rehearsals with brilliant young musicians, coached by our London Sinfonietta Principal Players.
At the end of the week the participants present the fruits of their labours: a captivating performance of the best contemporary music led by internationally renowned conductor Thierry Fischer. Book your free ticket here.
Participant and Harpist Elizabeth Bass shares her experience:
By the fourth day of the Academy, many aspects of the course have settled down. We as players are much more comfortable with each other on both a personal and musical basis, we are more inside our parts and each piece as a whole and we are getting to know what our conductors, Diego Masson and Benjamin Oliver – for his piece Beasts Bounding Through Time – are really looking for. Today the rehearsals began with John Adams’ Chamber Symphony which I am not in, so I had the chance to really hear and see how the ensemble has progressed over the past four days. Not only was I struck by the precision of the ensemble playing, but I was also instantly aware of the conviction and energy of each player – something which has blossomed in just a few short days and has been nurtured by the expertise of the London Sinfonietta Players. The players have been incredibly helpful across both the technical and practical aspects of performing and working with contemporary music, and their guidance will undoubtedly stay with us throughout our careers. Equally inspiring is Diego’s ability to step in at such short notice and tackle these incredibly intricate and demanding scores – some unknown to him beforehand – and to rehearse them with such flare and personality.
The next rehearsal of the day was the Webern – a piece which is most definitely ‘more than meets the eye’! Most of our parts look very simple at first glance but the piece is a real test of musicianship. The tempi changes are incredibly difficult to master and the piece demands great attention to detail when it comes to colour, articulation and phrasing. Every note is very important and also feels very exposed! The work also exemplifies the relevance of all of the skills learnt during the London Sinfonietta Academy course; the complexity of the score in terms of tempi, time signature and orchestration mean that we need to be incredibly responsive to the conductor. Due to the size of the ensemble, the confidence and depth of expression required for each part demands us all to be both chamber musicians and soloists too.
We had our final rehearsal of Beasts Bounding Through Time this afternoon with Benjamin Oliver himself, before our last top and tail on Saturday. It is very clear that all of us are very much enjoying both playing and listening to this work. It has many many layers of material but somehow nothing is ever lost, with each line complimenting one another, even when they are incredibly contrasting and are clearly influenced by hugely contrasting styles of music. The piece is exciting and funky yet very atmospheric and still at times. Working on this piece with Benjamin is certainly pushing us all to be as adaptable and diverse as possible, and to always use our imaginations when it comes to the style and character of each sections.
I am very eager to get underway with our final day of rehearsals tomorrow, especially as we are yet to rehearse the Boulez all together… we are certainly kept on our toes here! But I am particularly eager and excited to perform with such a skilled and lovely bunch of people on Saturday. I am feeling very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such immensely capable and experienced musicians as the London Sinfonietta players, and also to have worked on such fantastic and demanding repertoire with other keen musicians my age. I have loved every minute of it!