1) University of York
I had an affinity with the University of York, particularly with the composer and lecturer Nicola LeFanu. It is now my goal to return to York to study a PHD!!!
2) Berlin Philharmonic
I’m not sure I need to say anything except they were aaaamazing…
3) Prague Spring Festival
The concert halls and variety of concerts were just amazing and the number of the people who go to hear classical music was overwhelming.
4) Culture in London
I still can’t get over the amount of stuff going on in London. Everyday there are literally hundreds of concerts, plays and musicals. As much as I loved the concerts, I think the highlight was getting Billie Piper’s autograph after seeing her play Treats by Christopher Hampton!!
5) Musikhochschule, Lübeck
Location, location, location…..The Musikhochschule is hidden in a pretty street that slopes down to the river in the heart of the old city….ahhh….how ideal. It’s also just a couple of minutes walk from Niederegger – only the most delicious marzipan ever made.
Just letting you know – I’m still alive!
I had a very enjoyable time in the city of Freiburg. The university was really nice and had great facilities. It was also in a fantastic location, just minutes on foot from the centre of town. It had a very international feel being so close to France and Switzerland. I can see why so many New Zealanders’ gravitate there. It’s a really lovely place.
Back at the old piano again – I’m steadily working my way through another composition, this time for orchestra. I have so many ideas that I have to keep telling myself to save them up for the next one… or ten compositions!
I had a wonderful time at the Prague Spring Festival! A highlight was attending the final round of the International Conducting Competition. The entrants were so different and created very different sounds from the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Rudolfinum concert hall was an attraction in itself with beautiful pillars and chandeliers and much of the audience dressed in ball gowns.
I heard the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in another of their beautiful halls in the Municipal House. They played works by Sibelius, Ravel and Debussy. In the Church of SS Simon and Jude I also heard a Baroque concert featuring baroque oboe, flauto traverso and chalumeau. It was just like traveling back in time!
Prague itself is a delightful city with picturesque buildings everywhere you turn. The old town seemed to come to life in the evenings – shops and cafes not shutting till very late. I could see exactly why artists were drawn to Prague.
The ultimate highlight was on my way to Prague. I was able to hear the Berlin Philharmonic playing in their home auditorium, the Philharmonie. The programme was stellar with Stravinsky’s Petroushka and Marher’s 1st Symphony. I just loved the whole concert not wanting it to end.
Lübeck is a really lovely place. The Musikhochschule is hidden in a pretty street that slopes down to the river in the heart of the old city. Inside these historical buildings you can hear all types of music from jazz to classical and contemporary. Professor Dieter Mack was very nice and welcoming. After seeing my work Dieter had a lot of advice at a very detailed level. He also surprised me with a visit from another fellow Auckland University graduate studying there – Andari!
I was really impressed by the University of York, from the picturesque lake setting to the size and quality of its musical facilities. They have three auditoriums, a whole block dedicated to research and above all a huge composition department – there are over thirty PHD composition students alone! Despite this I was delighted to find that it was just as common to see another student walk by as it was a family of geese.
I was warmly welcomed by Nicola LeFanu and Roger Marsh and was immediately made to feel at home. My sessions with Nicola were both thoroughly enjoyable and insightful. I learnt a lot about my writing style, my weakness and even my strengths. Both Nicola and Roger introduced me to a range of new music that was unknown to me that I am keen to explore. I also spent long afternoons in their large music library studying their contemporary scores. Many that I had never had a chance to see before.
In the past week I’ve experienced at least two of London’s seasons. From freezing winds and snow to perfect blue skies where I was able to eat lunch outside – in shorts and a t-shirt.
I have started tutorials with Dorothy Ker, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, who is in London at the moment. I had a real mission getting to her house ‘cross country’ using four types of transportation – tube, train, bus and foot. I really enjoyed meeting her and have started to show her some of my works. She has given me lots to think about in my writing and some homework to do before our next session.