Voices from the Verbier Festival Academy I

Sheku Kanneh-MasonCredit:http://www.deccaclassics.com/

Sheku Kanneh-Mason
Credit: http://www.deccaclassics.com/

On 3rd December, 2017, a Verbier Festival Academy alumnus – 18 year old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason from Nottingham, UK – made his debut in Vancouver, Canada, presented by the Vancouver Recital Society. He and his sister Isata (who accompanied him on the piano) played a sold-out concert to a theater full of spellbound audience. The following day they performed to 180 students in a Classics for Kids Concert, making a huge impact on the lives of these school children. The pair created such a buzz in our city, that they were re-booked instantly to return next season.

Here is the feedback from the enthusiastic audience:

“Thank you for a remarkable afternoon of wonderful virtuosity from two young and amazing musicians, an afternoon that will never be forgotten. They are both destined for greatness and I feel fortunate to be able to say ‘I was there’.”

 Sheku and Leila on stage during the post concert chat

Sheku and Leila on stage during the post concert chat

“I was moved to tears and have been YouTubing this young man’s performance progression all night! Brilliant.”

“The Kanneh-Mason siblings were absolutely amazing. Simply spectacular. I have no words to describe how breathtaking the recital was. I hope they come back soon. I have a feeling we will hear even greater things about them in the near future.”

The following musicians were among 64 recruited into the Verbier Festival Academy program in 2017 (together with Sheku Kanneh-Mason). After corresponding with these participants, I was impressed with their talent as well as moved by their individual accounts of the“Verbier Experience”. The level of modesty, earnestness for learning, affection for their fellow musicians, appreciation for the organizers, respect for the mentors, and, gratitude to the audience were overwhelming.

Here are sentiments expressed by those respondents (in their own words).

Albert Cano SmitCredit:https://static.wixstatic.com/

Albert Cano Smit
Credit: https://static.wixstatic.com/

Albert Cano Smit – pianist (Spain)

“I attended the Verbier Academy last summer, in 2017, and I had a fantastic experience. There are many reasons for why it was so special: of course the masterclasses with all those top musicians were very helpful and incredibly inspiring, but I also feel it was a privilege to be surrounded by and interact with so much concentrated musical talent. That talent is something that cannot be analyzed, only absorbed and admired by being there. Another interesting aspect was being able to experience so many different schools, personalities and approaches to music at the same time in the same place, all of which were brought to such a high level. There were some musical moments and performances that were unforgettable and will stay with me for a very long time. I was fortunate to meet quite a few other students whom I can genuinely call friends, both musically and personally! Outside of the music itself, the mountain setting was breathtakingly beautiful. Finally, I was very grateful and even surprised by how much support was put on young musicians, from both established artists and organizers. There were so many people who were genuinely enthusiastic about classical music who went out of their way to make Verbier (and in this case the Academy) possible that it was very encouraging.

Sumina StuderCredit:https://static1.squarespace.com/

Sumina Studer
Credit: https://static1.squarespace.com/

Sumina Studer – violinist (Switzerland)

It was my first time at the Verbier Festival, which offered exceptional, rare environment for a young musician such as myself. The people I met there aren’t just chamber music partners, fellow music students or anonymous organizers, but grew to become close friends, colleagues to discuss and exchange musical ideas with, and human reminders why we keep doing what we do on a daily basis. At the Verbier Festival (Academy), I have learned an extensive amount about music and about myself. All of this made Verbier Festival one of the most important musical highlights in my life.

Andrei GologanCredit: http://www.andrei-gologan.at/

Andrei Gologan
Credit: http://www.andrei-gologan.at/

Andrei Gologan – pianist (Romania)

The 2017 Verbier Festival Academy represented a life-changing experience that made me see music and the world surrounding it in a completely new way. Walking down the small streets of Verbier and meeting all these musicians, young and old, makes one believe that music is indeed a powerful tool that brings people together and makes the world a bit better. The feeling of being part of a big musical family is what makes the academy so special. One is grateful to be among this small group of talented young artists, which have the common goal of making music and sharing it with others, may it be academy colleagues, faculty members or the warm public of Verbier. The Swiss Alps, inspiring concerts, brilliant faculty members and an overall terrific atmosphere created the cocktail that made my Verbier experience to be, as I said, life-changing.

Ebonit QuartetCredit:http://ebonitquartet.com/

Ebonit Quartet
Credit: http://ebonitquartet.com/

Ebonit Quartet (Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Poland)

It was a big honor for us having participated in the 2017 Verbier Festival Academy. It’s not every year that they expect a saxophone quartet to their Academy rooster, so we feel very grateful that we’ve been given this chance. We had incredibly inspiring lessons with teachers such us Gábor Takács-Nagy, Rafaël Merlin (Quatuor Ébène) or Peter Jarůšek (Pavel Haas Quartet). Furthermore, it has been a great experience meeting so many young and talented fellow musicians. Being surrounded for three weeks by such a quality and high standard of music making has been a truly unique experience. We enjoyed not only our own lessons but also listened to our colleagues being taught by Andràs Schiff, Thomas Quasthoff or Frans Helmerson. Being part of the Academy enabled us to attend all concerts of the Verbier Festival for free, so we could listen to the Festival Orchestras and some of the finest soloists of our time every night. Looking back, the chance to be part of the Verbier Festival has been a big present to us which we will definitely never forget.

Continue to next article: “Voices from the Verbier Festival Academy II”

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