CGC Summer School Class of 2017
The participants of the CGC Summer School came from far and wide. There were guitarists from India, Germany, Australia, Mexico, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Many of us had known each other through the Classical Guitar Corner forums, but this was the first time to meet in person.
Ensembles and Orchestra
Each day we had small ensembles that were each led by one instructor. These groups worked together each morning putting together repertoire that was performed on the final concert. In addition to repertoire we talked about technique, musical concepts and practiced sight reading.
In the afternoons the entire group met to work on the orchestra pieces. We performed three pieces at the final concert and the orchestra was led by Janet Agostino and myself.
Perhaps the most astounding and impressive aspect of all this was that few of the participants had experience in ensemble situations before. It was a daunting prospect to recieve new music on day one and perform it on day five, but we achieved it with commitment and perseverance.
I don’t think I have ever seen a group of strangers become friends quicker than at the CGC Summer School. Granted, many people had been in communication with one another through the site, and had even seen each other on the live seminars, but it was still impressive and a testament to the open and caring people that were in attendance.
We had a chance to socialize at meal times, at the beach side BBQ (where Myles and Ben received rapturous applause for diving in the chilly North Atlantic) and in the evenings back at the residence hall.
Workshops, Presentations, and Individual Lessons
Every day we had a different presentation or workshop. Janet Agostino presented a lecture on the music of Richard Charlton and Phillip Houghton, two Australian composers who have written a lot of music that would be of interest to students and professionals alike. Raffaele Agostino presented a technique workshop that was focused on fundamentals of classical guitar technique. Gohar Vardanyan gave a workshop on practice technique and answered questions from the students. Ben Verdery gave a thought provoking and entertaining analysis of Manuel De Falla’s Homenaje and talked about the amount of detail we can find in a score. On the final day, the participants were led through a stretching class by Evita Powis.
Each guitarist had two lessons with different teachers that allowed them to get personalized feedback and instruction from world class teachers.
Each evening we were treated to a concert by the Summer School instructors. I performed on the first night (who was the genius that thought that would be a good idea?!) along with Jacques Lee Wood. Ben Verdery performed on the second night and we made the most of a lighting blackout that resulted in atmospheric lighting provided by a single desk lamp. David Belcher and Gohar Vardanyan wowed the audience on the third night and on the fourth Duo Agostino took the stage to show just how wonderful ensemble playing can be. On the final night it was the participants turn to perform and the performed to a small local audience and several thousand people via the internet.
Open Mic Night
After all the hard work studying your own pieces, open mic night was a chance to take the stage and perform in front of your peers. Over half of the participants took to the stage and were greeted by warm applause and cheers.
The Final Concert
Some of the participants were skeptical, or at least hesitant to think that with only five days of work we could pull together an ensemble concert. However, with great teachers, carefully chosen repertoire, and a lot of concentration, here it is!
The goal was never to have “perfect” renditions of these pieces. Rather, it was to set a goal, work towards it and perform. The goal was to break some comfort barriers, and learn more about what it is to be a musician. And, by all accounts these goals were met with aplomb.
I swear I was there!
One person you may have noticed as absent in these photos is me! I was the one behind the camera the whole time, so I am grateful to Roger for snapping this photo and sending it through. Proof!