Want to know what life is like as an ANAM musician? In Between the Lines is a blog post written by one of ANAM’s first year students.
Black and White: Part 2
The next day was the start of all the seriously serious stuff. I will admit that over the previous weekend in anticipation for the crazy busy-ness that was about to hit, I woke up early on both days to do my chores and errands. So, ANAM was going to be open from 8am every day so that we could fit in some practice time. We were allocated three dedicated hours a day to practice (if you choose to use them) which may sound like a lot, but honestly isn’t heaps given how much we have to do! Pianists are notorious for being the first to pipe up, “I need to practice…” (particularly at social functions haha!). So off I went to be there for 8am with the notion of a serious sugar and caffeine addiction already planted. We had a session on stagecraft from Hugh Halliday mid-morning where we talked about presentation and even did some walk-ons and bowing (even with two pianists. The coordination required is obviously quite pertinent!) The girls were even taught to curtsy, which few managed to do gracefully. The rest of us (me included) did this awkward bob thing trying to balance on one foot and looking more like baby giraffes rather than graceful ladies.
Then came the first of the lunchtime concerts for the week (there was one every day!) in which the ANAM pianists and another student from Queensland played solos. I had the (un?)fortunate pleasure of being the very first up. I suppose this is what happens when one elects to play Bach….(I think I’m going to be known as the girl that plays Bach and Beethoven…! I suppose there are worse things to be known for). It went fairly well, with the exception of a memory slip at the very beginning, about six bars in. Third time lucky, after a humble apology to the audience, with music safely opened out, I got through all four of the Four Duets relatively unscathed. Quite satisfactorily, in fact, I think. These pieces are rarely played; in fact, I had never heard of them until Tim Young mentioned them to me. I’m pretty sure most people haven’t heard of them, let alone heard them. They don’t enjoy the same sort of fame as the Well-Tempered Clavier, the French Suites or Partitas, or even the concerti (including those for multiple keyboards). But being the genius that Bach is, these pieces are clever and exciting gems that only utilise two voices to create surprising harmonic inflections, modulations and clever (and deceiving) rhythmic games. Such is the joy of playing Bach – always something new to discover.
During the week I had three different lessons with three artists: Michael Kieran Harvey, Ami Rogé and Stephen Emmerson. For each, I brought three different works: the first movement of Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto (B Flat Major), Fauré’s La Bonne Chansonand the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th sonata for piano and cello (D Major). All these classes were helpful and insightful with the teachers encouraging me in shaping the music. One particularly exciting thing was that Ami Rogé had only ever played the first three (of nine) songs of the Fauré and so playing the songs for her was like a revelation. We had a particularly enjoyable hour together delving into the subtle harmonies and colours and didn’t even get through the whole work! We were so excited that we arranged to have another session the next day where my soprano could come along and also for Pascal Rogé to hear it too. This session was particularly exciting maybe just for sheer virtue of playing for Pascal (!!!!) but probably most exciting was that here we were, sharing this amazing music for the first time for Pascal and Ami who had never heard the entire song cycle performed.
Each day at 5pm there was also a seminar given by one of the visiting artists (I suppose I should mention at this point that the other visiting artists, apart from Pascal and Ami Rogé, Michael Kieran Harvey, Stephen Emmerson and Timothy Young, obviously, were Ian Munro and Steven Osborne). These presentations were interesting and definitely got juices and thoughts flowing. There was some lively debate and many seeds planted in the young (and not so young!) minds.
More of the visiting students played solos in the lunchtime concerts on the Tuesday and Wednesday. It was lovely to sit back and to enjoy hearing other pianists. One thing that was weird through the week was to hear so much piano being practiced! With only three of us this year at ANAM, we are far more likely to hear a violin or cello (or even an oboe! Yes, there are four oboe players this year! That’s one more than piano. So unlikely!!) in the practice rooms. And for once, you couldn’t tell who was practicing based on the repertoire – you actually had to peek in to see who it was!