A musical summer in sunny Spain!

Hola! That’s Hi! in Spanish.

This started with a UCSI music student who wanted to experience and explore the world of music, outside of her own country. So, she took an initiative to check out for music summer courses through Google and it brought her to a wonderful journey to Europe. Well, that student is me. I participated in “Musical Summer”, an International Festival and Masterclasses, that took place in Spain; an advantage to a Spanish music lover like me. The masterclass was held for almost two weeks, in the middle of July. It was my first time to Europe and I was beyond ecstatic to begin my adventure, but first, to get there, it was a one day flight, with two transits, at Abu Dhabi and Rome. Nevertheless, I was also nervous as to meet all the strangers- my piano lecturers and the participants.

Conservatoria Manuel Carra’s Hall
Conservatoria Manuel Carra’s Hall

When I arrived, participants were already grouped with conversations in foreign languages, mainly German, Japanese, and Russian stirring in the air. How I wish that I could speak those languages! I conversed in English but it took awhile to break the ice. I have come to know that most of them are studying in Germany, although they came from all over the world. I met people from Poland, Russia, United Kingdom, USA, Switzerland, Ukraine, Korea, Japan, Slovenia, Estonia, and Taiwan, with an age range of 16 to over 40.

All the masterclasses and practices took place at Convervatorio Manuel Carra in Malaga city, Spain. There were piano, violin, and chamber ensemble masterclasses. Five masterclasses for solo instrument are given to every participant and three hours of practice per day slots are arranged as well. All participants stay in a residential hostel which is about 20 minutes away by bus, from the conservatory. The residence provided all three meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everyday, but the meals are to be consumed at a specific time. If you missed it, it will be your own loss as punctuality is the explanation, no Malaysian timing.

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There were also concerts and recitals organized for all the participants to perform. Honestly, I was very amazed by these musicians. Everyone performed with great confidence and they were all very steady and powerful in their playing, both technically and musically. Concerts were planned almost every night and the venues chosen were quite unique as well. We performed at the conservatory hall, art museum, outdoor stadium, outside the chapel, the port, and such. Most of the venues are walking distance away from the residence, as it is around the center of the Malaga city.

Me(left), Prof. Robert Palmer(right)
Me(left), Prof. Robert Palmer(right)

I attended masterclasses given by Daniel Vaiman and Prof. Robert Palmer, a Ukrainian and an American, respectively. They were both very enthusiastic teachers. Their teachings gave me more ways to practice and to improve in my piano playing as well as giving great inspiration for me in the path of music. I still remember words from Prof. Robert Palmer- ‘you are not who you are when you play the piano!’. Indeed it is true, you have to be and feel the composer while playing their piece of music. There are much more to learn in music, much more to experience and to understand- from different periods of music to different stylistic of composers, different touch on the instrument that suggests different tone colors of interpretation, and the inner emotions, mood, and energy inside a performer to carry out a piece of music. Piano masterclasses in this festival made me realize a deeper perspective of music and also changed my attitude in practicing a piece.

At the Malagueta Beach
At the Malagueta Beach

This musical summer was truly an eye-opener to me. It was great to meet strangers yet we grew closer in merely two weeks. It was a heartfelt experience to the music, participants, lecturers, environment, and food in this festival and this city in Spain. I will definitely go back there again. If you have the opportunity, go for it! My advice would be to learn the German language, if you plan to go to Europe.

Gracias(thank you) for reading, and Adios(bye)!

This article was written by Alice Ang Ying Ying, 3rd year student of the B. Classical Music Program. 

Photo credits to Alice Ang. 

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