Ingenium 2017 Blog - Midweek update
29 July 2017
What a week! We've had the busiest first few days of the Ingenium Academy ever, full of a huge variety of music-making of the highest quality and loads of fun. Time for another update...
Tuesday began with really focussed morning sessions. Orchestra was divided into sectional rehearsals, with the strings led by award-winning viola soloist Tim Ridout (winner of the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition) and the woodwind and brass led by Helen Paskins (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Birmingham Royal Ballet), who also took our clarinettists for individual lessons. We also welcomed Léonie Adams for cello lessons (Northern Ballet, English National Opera, West End) and Clare Findlater for flute lessons (LSO, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra).
The choir enjoyed a productive morning's rehearsal, and the saxophones worked on support and air flow to improve their tuning and tone.
Our pianists had more individual lessons, and also had the chance to learn about Alexander technique with visiting specialist Helen Kearns. Meanwhile the conductors made the most of a short spell of sunshine, and took in Winchester College's beautiful surroundings while working on baton technique.
Musicianship in the afternoon included some specialist workshops including vocal health, Alexander technique and performance anxiety, and a baroque strings masterclass with Heather Tomala (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra).
Tuesday afternoon also included our first Chamber Music session, for which each student is part of a small group. These ensembles will have the opportunity to work together throughout the course.
After dinner it was back to New Hall for a Quiz Night, organised by our pastoral team. Hilarious and challenging, and of course with an international flavour, the quiz also included an entertaining picture round identifying baby photos of the staff...
Wednesday morning offered the chance for everyone to properly get to grips with the repertoire. The orchestra made huge progress with challenging music by Malcolm Arnold and Carl Nielsen, and the saxophones had a workshop on performance skills. Pianists worked on sight reading, and honed their rhythm skills with some games in addition to individual lessons and practice.
There was an exciting opportunity for the conductors, who got to spend time conducting the choir. It was also a useful experience for the choir to experience different styles of conducting, and we had some very constructive comments and feedback from the singers to help guide the conductors.
After lunch, everyone had the chance to spend some time to explore the ancient and glorious city of Winchester. Sadly the weather was not so glorious - but the rain didn't stop us and in small groups we spent time around the high street and the beautiful 11th century cathedral.
Once back, our chamber ensembles re-grouped for a practice session before dinner. Our evening activity on Wednesday was somewhat more active - visiting swing band Down For The Count brought some vintage atmosphere to New Hall, and led everyone in a lesson on 1920's Charleston swing dancing. After the dance lesson, some singers and instrumentalists had the chance to perform with the band - supported by an enthusiastic Ingenium Academy audience showing off their new moves!
Thursday morning offered more rehearsal time, with saxophonists focussing on articulation and pianists on technique. Our conducting students were also able to spend some time with the orchestra, who in turn offered their feedback and comments respectfully and with some thoughtful suggestions for improvement.
We also had more prestigious visiting staff for individual lessons, including Miranda Allen (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English National Opera) and Gwen Reed (Silk Street Sinfonia, Ensemble Nova Luce, GSMD), as well as our three vocal tutors Amanda Smallbone (GSMD), Jennifer Snapes (National Youth Choir) and Sophie Grimmer (Trinity Laban, RADA, National Youth Choir, English National Opera).
After lunch, Ken Burton (BBC Choir of the Year & Songs Of Praise) led a rousing Gospel singing workshop. Hearing everyone's voices raised, hands clapping and smiling was just what we needed to get energised for the rest of the week, in preparation for our concert on Friday!
During the afternoon we had another chamber music session, and some people had rehearsals with our répétiteur and accompanist Heather Tomala for the evening's activity, which was our weekly Performance Platform.
We saw some absolutely spellbinding performances from the students, including everything from Poulenc and Bach to Amy Winehouse and music from Hamilton. It was exhilarating to see how much our young musicians have improved in just 5 days of being here, and the support and enthusiasm for the performers from their friends in the audience was wonderful.
Musicians of the day
Solal was Matthew's pick for Tuesday, for musical and intuitive timpani playing. He was also exceptionally professional during the wind and strings sectionals.
Justus and Anna shared the title, for excellent sight-reading of very hard music in old-style notation.
Covadonga 'brought sunshine' to the piano composition session with her smile when she achieved something that had been challenging her.
Jason was Dom's pick for great progession with his tone, and for already having sight-read and learned a duet by day 3.
Andrea, for thoughtful, insightful, and intelligent contributions to discussion.
Ksenia, for being a star leader, fantastic player and diligent, hard worker.
Emily Jennifer, for excellent points put across during the conductors workshop and also being an amazing pianist!
Antón, for improvising outside of his comfort zone.
Aditi, for working hard and making great improvements while conducting the choir.
Anaïs and Michelle, for beautiful solos in the Dvorak and for working hard all week.
Roberta, for putting in lots of hard work on her solo and sounding fab. Tom said he can't wait to hear her in the concert.
Stephanie, for obviously working hard between her two lessons on the Chopin and making really noticeable improvement.
Ivan, for impressing Dom with intelligent questions all day, and for excellent baroque saxophone technique.
Joseph, who impressed Tim by being more relaxed, comfortable and confident. He was smiling and shared his enthusiasm and achievements with the team.
Stay tuned for our Week 1 Weekend Update coming soon...