RCICW day 3

Day three is somehow both the longest and shortest day of the workshop. By this point, one feels that one has really gotten a very good sense of each of the conducting students, both as musicians and as people. By this point in the workshop, we’re starting to see real progress and a few genuine breakthroughs. We’re also seeing more of the strengths of the students as they settle in and get used to the orchestra and to the faculty. At this point I feel like I’ve known them all for weeks, not days.
On the other hand, we’ve turned the corner and are already much closer to the end of the workshop than the beginning. By the end of day three we’re done with all the teaching sessions except for one Beethoven 3 masterclass. Also, today was the day to finalize concert assignments, and that’s a difficult and time consuming job. I think all of us on the faculty felt reluctant to make assignments based on just the first thing we saw someone do, and I’m sure that experience has validated that reluctance. After seeing them do 3 or 4 different things and work on whatever we’ve thrown at them over several sessions, you can see their strengths and weaknesses in much more detail. It’s important to assign things to people that they can do well, and that they’ll learn from doing.
I’ve enjoyed working on all the pieces with the students, but also working on them with David and Chris. We each have particularly strong affinities with some of the repertoire, and it’s as fascinating for me as I would hope it is for the students to see them breakdown things in ways I wouldn’t have thought about,  I’m sure I’ll be fresher in my own score study after this.
Very interesting watching faces of orchestra players and conductors after the Shostakovich sessions- almost everyone seems quite shaken up by it, but in a good way. People go out smiling when Carmen dies at the end of the session, but not when we sink into the final C minor abyss in the Shostakovich.

Orchestra has been great this year. There hasn’t been as much interaction between players and students in the sessions as last year, but we’ve had more of our regular players, which means a better orchestra. Hopefully they’re making connections in the breaks and at the pub or coffee shop.
Sunday AmJust a few precious hours left. We’ll give each student a mini-lesson in the morning on they’re concert repertoire, then we’ll have one final Beethoven masterclass (such a hard piece for me to teach as I’ve gotten a little too opinionated about it this year!), a wrap up and the final concert. I think the concert will have some great moments this year. I’ve got my ideas about who might be the one(s) to hit the ball out of the park tonight, but I’m sure there will be some surprises, and, who knows, maybe a disaster, what they call a “teachable moment” in academia…..

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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1 comment on “RCICW day 3”

  1. Pingback: Kenneth Woods- a view from the podium » Rose City International Conductor’s Workshop- digest of journal entries

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