Stunning student performances conclude 2020 Adam Summer School

25 February 2020 / News

Last weekend the Adam Summer School concluded another year – once again on a high note. Across nine days of more than a hundred coaching and practice sessions, public masterclasses, community concerts and Feldenkrais classes each of the students in our seven ensembles worked incredibly hard. As NZSQ tutor Helene Pohl explains:

"...the intensity and amount of coaching means that we aren’t just giving them lists of ideas or instructions for them to work with, but actually rehearsing with them.  This allows them to experience in a very direct way what kind of work it takes to bring a work up to a professional performance standard."

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The 2021 Adam Troubadours are coached by Helene Pohl

The standard of the performances was extremely high this year. The two Finale Concerts at Nelson’s Centre of Musical Arts blew audiences away, with one attendee commenting that the students had "produced something special" in these showcases. It’s an intense week, but the rewards all around for students, tutors, and audiences, are great!

We asked several students to tell us about their week in Nelson. Pianist Nicholas Kovacev has now attended for three consecutive years – and his group’s performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Trio at the 3pm concert was compelling. Nicholas writes:

"The Adam summer school is a unique experience that I look forward to every year. It offers the chance to escape the practicalities of life and immerse yourself in music-making for the sheer joy of it. Getting together as a group with no prior experience playing together is always nerve-wracking but it’s amazing how quickly camaraderie develops over music!  Having the time to think and rethink how you play every note, with input from world-class musicians no less, is a rare luxury, and I feel like I’m able to reach new heights in my playing every year."

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The Shostakovich group play the composer's Piano Trio No. 2

The 2021 Adam Troubadours spent some extra time in Nelson on either side of the Adam Summer School. As the group who will go on to perform at the 2021 Adam Chamber Music Festival in Nelson next February, this string quartet has been busy learning more repertoire and consolidating their ensemble playing. Three of the group had previously attended the summer school for several years. For violinist Kihei Lee, her first time at the school "was an intensive but also friendly and encouraging environment making a lot of new relationships that will go a long way." Cellist Bethany Angus adds that "the summer school is a great way to network with other students and an incredibly high calibre of tutors."

Grace McKenzie, a violin student from Auckland, calls the Adam Summer School "a truly life-changing experience." She says:

"It’s something I anticipate every year. Particularly striking is the breadth of meaning that we are encouraged to explore - rehearsing Haydn alongside Schnittke for example, has allowed me to understand the diversity of musical expression, and ultimately how that relates to our own human nature."

The Troubadours studied Haydn’s Op. 76, no. 1, and twentieth-century German-Russian composer Alfred Schnittke’s String Quartet no. 3 – the first time the latter has been performed on the course. Violist Nathan Pinkney – who along with Grace has attended an impressive six times - describes why he continues to apply:

"The continuity of commitment and energy given our by the tutors makes this summer school very special - Along with the supportive community created amongst the students. The Summer School was my main motivation for pursuing music - the dynamic way in which music is portrayed, made it feel very real and personal."

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The Ravel Quartet perform in Nelson Public Library

 play your instruments

Students and tutors celebrate at the end of the Finale Concerts (16 February 2020)

We, along with our wonderful colleagues – piano tutor Diedre Irons and Feldenkrais Method coach Elke Dunlop – are delighted with the students’ diligence, progress, and achievements across the 2020 course. This year the Donald Armstrong Award for student development went to first-time student Miru Shimaoka. From the Hawkes Bay, Miru is about to begin tertiary music study at the New Zealand School of Music. With 56% of our Adam Summer School students attending more than once, we are delighted that the Adam Foundation have continued to support this residential music programme. We hope to see a mix of new and familiar faces in 2021 for the 27th Adam Summer School and are looking forward to welcoming members of the public to see the school in action at the masterclasses and concerts.

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