Classic London Study Tour – Barbican Centre, Royal Academy of Music and Sylvain Blassel Masterclass


IMG_4272Visit to Royal Academy of Music, January 24th: “It was really great to see how the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra rehearsed. It was interesting to observe their rehearsal process, and to watch how the conductor, Olivier Knussen tackled problematic sections of a work. His ears are incredible – he was easily able to identify missing or slightly flat notes to a particular player even through dense orchestration. It was wonderful to see how the players responded to his instructions, and to observe all thee different dynamics within each instrument section.” – Thomas Chalker



Concert, JanuaryIMG_4281 24th: “As the first concert of the trip, it was fascinating to hear an Italian orchestra play Italian repertoire. As a pit orchestra, the orchestra was at home playing the Rossini La gazza ladra overture, with its military opening on the snare drum and romantic, sonorous melodies from the winds and strings. Following a regimented Italian opening, Benjamin Grosvenor brought a dazzling display of virtuosity in Grieg’s piano concerto in A minor. Finally, the orchestra presented a very Italian version of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony followed by an encore of Verdi. It was a fantastic experience to see an orchestra bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the stage.” – Cianah Harris



IMG_4322Concert, January 25th: “Getting to see the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by François-Xavier Roth play some of Debussy’s great orchestral works was a delight. A particular highlight was hearing both Prèlude à l’après-midi d’un faun and the Three Nocturnes, given that I have performed in both pieces in previous years at the Elder Conservatorium. Gareth Davies’ rendition of the opening solo to the Prelude was stunning and quite different to other renditions I have previously heard, which made it all the more enjoyable. Overall, it was incredibly inspiring to hear a world-class orchestra playing some of my favourite repertoire.” – Madeleine Stewart



IMG_4291Visit to Royal Albert Hall, January 25th: “It was amazing to see how incredibly versatile (and resilient!) such a monumental building could be. From being ready to stage the Proms, to a Coldplay concert or Cirque du Soleil, to being flooded for a production of Madama Butterfly and being turned into an indoor tennis court!” – Thomas Chalker




IMG_4328Sylvain Blassel Masterclass, January 26th: “Sylvain brought such an extensive knowledge of every piece presented and merged his artistic ideas off of academic insight. He spoke about many common problems harpists face such as transcriptions of baroque and early classical music, brought into the harp repertoire much later in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the challenges of authentic performance. He also made the group face many harp ‘traditions’ such as the over romanticism of music, and ways to either use that to enhance performances or be aware of when learning scores. Finally, he brought an extensive knowledge of historical harps into the class, asking each harpist to consider the type of harp in which the music was written for, before comparing the differences to the modern harp and adjusting musical ideas to fit the disadvantages and benefits of playing triple/double harp, or single action music on the modern instrument. His enthusiasm and passion for teaching provided a much needed fresh perspective on common repertoire.” – Cianah Harris


IMG_4393Visit to Guildhall School of Music and Drama, January 30th: “We had a fantastic day at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Dr Jo Hensel who  is Deputy Director of Woodwind Brass and Percussion and also plays with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, set up a series of classes for us to attend. Elder Con students Madeleine Stewart and Christopher Buckley acquitted themselves very well in the conducting class orchestra. It was a memorable day and a privilege for us to be so warmly welcomed and involved in a day at Guildhall.” – Elizabeth Koch

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