The 27th Adam Summer School for young chamber musicians took place earlier this month in Nelson and offered 25 of the country's top young musicians the opportunity to work alongside pianist Richard Mapp and the members of the NZSQ on some of the greatest works of the chamber music repertoire.
Violist Zephyr Wills, who has attended four times now, wrote a reflection about the 27th Summer School and what it was like rehearsing and performing as part of Strauss' Metamorphosen septet. Pianist Noelle Dannenbring, who has now attended three Summer Schools, also wrote a reflection about her experience as a returning student and what it's like as only one of a few pianists accepted each year.
You can read their reflections on the Summer School below, as well as a couple of touching emails we received from two audience members who have been attending the Finale Concerts for over 12 years now and were greatly moved by the final performances...
Violist Zephyr Wills reflects on the 2021 Adam Summer School
The 2021 Adam Summer School wonderfully upheld its reputation as one of the finest chamber music education programs for developing young musicians in Aotearoa. The week-long course offers an intensive array of chamber music rehearsals, coachings, and masterclasses in anticipation of the finale concert at the end of the week, at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. Through detailed interactions with members of the New Zealand String Quartet, students receive unique insight into how professional chamber music is constructed. These interactions in 2021 were particularly unique for the members of my group. We had been assigned Strauss’ intellectually and emotionally stimulating ‘Metamorphosen’, a work originally written for twenty-three string players but arranged for Septet by Austrian cellist Rudolf Leopold. I spent weeks perfecting my part over the summer, and confidently arrived in Nelson believing I utterly comprehended the complexities of this work. Oh rest thee, my mistaken mind. The extraordinarily diverse detail and multi-faceted interpretation the NZSQ added to my understanding of this piece, and chamber music as a whole, was staggering.
True, it was not uncommon to observe, and partake in, relatively stereotypical rehearsal procedures, such as thirty-minute intonation discussions about how, ‘the C natural in bar 168 needs to harmonically adjust to fit the chord structure’. However, for the NZSQ, stereotypical technical perfection is not enough. Numerous additional factors were considered, including textual density, harmonic development, voice leading, emotional manipulation, and historical analysis, to name a few. Historical analysis was particularly applicable to my group this year. Understanding that Strauss was lamenting, through ‘Metamorphosen’, not only the destruction of Germanic culture in 1945, but also the legacy of the Germanic Enlightenment, was critical to informing our interpretation of the work. This emotional crucible was wonderfully conditioned with the NZSQ’s immense pedagogical experience, producing a finale performance that, one hopes, truthfully reflected Strauss’ turbulent midframe in 1945. One cannot help but leave the Adam Summer School with an aura of musical professionalism.