Words cannot describe the festival, but writing a summary of the event does help sharpen the memory. The SESC International Music festival starts your year off with good food, loads of exercise, music that makes your heart want to explode, and a general ‘all good’ kind of feeling. My feet will never be the same after all the dancing and walking we did, and my heart really misses everyone that I met and worked with.
The Fifth SESC International Music festival was held in the very humid Pelotas, RS. If ever there was a way to get to know a town and it ‘s people this is the way to do it. You are housed in the city centre, which creates an electric buzz. The daily schedule includes private lesson, groups lesson, ensemble practice, lunch hour concerts and evening concerts. The concerts were all varied and of a high standard. The staff of this course are from all over the world including Brazil, USA, Argentina, Spain, Chile, France, Holland and Slovenia – to name only a few. If you don’t feel like attending a concert there are restaurants that offer local Brazilian music. I loved the one café we went to. The musicians played Choro and I was able to learn the very basic samba and mambo (I think those were the styles mentioned!). The course is run as an on going two-week performance and includes all kinds of ensembles. I was able to perform in a euphonium sextet, euphonium and tuba octet, a brass ensemble, a wind orchestra, and as a soloist in a euphonium duet (composed by my teacher Fernando Deddos). These were performed in concert halls, the local library, out in the street and even in small churches based in the countryside.
The master classes we had with Fernando were inspirational so I thought I should include a few of the notes I took. I will put them in point form to keep it simple:
• Your ear is the most important thing. Train it first.
• Be an artist and be humble (both of these are necessary to continuously learn)
• Knowledge is vital. Gather as much of it as you can. Read and listen to everything.
• Know what you are playing/performing. Know everything you can about it.
• You are going to sound like you. Understand your sound. Be able to manipulate it according to the need of the music.
• Make a checklist of your practicing needs. Practise wisely and keep goals in mind.
• Always ask why – why do we play scales? Why standards? Why western music? Why do I do this? These questions are imperative in understanding what you are actually doing and how to progress.
• Air is critical for a relaxed and tone enriched performance. Practise your breathing. Build stretching and breath exercises into your practice regime.
• Performance is a state of mind. You need to, mentally, be in that situation at all times so that when you finally have to perform, you step right into it.
• Rhythm is about space; not sound. Understanding the rhythm is vital in communicating a piece of music.
• The heart of an artist needs to be creative. Mix it up! And inspire yourself.
Fernando Deddos is really an amazing artist who has chosen euphonium as one of his mediums. I learnt so much from him and really appreciate that he would share this knowledge with all of us. If you can get to a course/class with him do go! It’s the best thing I have done for my playing.
There are quite a few concerts coming up soon so keep your eyes open!