From Classroom to Conductor's Stand
The Corigliano Quartet’s Feb. 18 concert may have been the most high-profile aspect of the ensemble’s recent weeklong residency at Dickinson, but it was not the most vital. The nationally acclaimed musicians and former Dickinson artists-in-residence also worked directly with student musicians, offering fresh perspectives and from-the-trenches tips.
“It is extremely important to bring in outside musicians because many of us are [preparing for] professional careers, or are applying for advanced programs,” says Aubrey Holmes ’11, explaining that the chance to “learn from fresh ears” and network with successful, working musicians helps students “connect more easily to the bigger classical music world” after graduation.
A personal approach
Holmes, a violinist, was one of several students who enjoyed a private lesson with a Corigliano musician. “[Violinist] Michael Lim was great,” Holmes, who worked with Lim on a difficult piece that he plans to perform in an upcoming audition. “He helped me see a larger, overall structure in the music and also helped me understand more about what [judges] listen for in auditions.” [Story continues below.]
Corigliano musicians also visited a music-theory class led by Associate Professor of Music Jennifer Blyth and a music-history class led by Assistant Professor of Music Amy Wlodarski. And students in Associate Professor of Music Robert Pound’s score-study and conducting class enjoyed the unique opportunity of directing the quartet’s performance of a Bach chorale.
The students had one practice session with the Corigliano Quartet before the final performance, which counted as a test. Pound reports that all five students learned a great deal from the exercise.
“Their skill in following our [gestures]—even when we made mistakes—laid bare our faults,” explained Eric Rosenstein ‘11, who had previously conducted student groups in high school and at Dickinson and whose mother is a professional conductor. “[The exercise] taught me to stay ahead of the music and not get caught in the moment.”
Great things afoot
Insight such as this is invaluable, says Holmes. He notes that the Corigliano Quartet’s residency represents only one of many opportunities he’s had to work with visiting musicians at Dickinson.
“Dickinson does a great job at bringing in well-known musicians and young guns that are up-and-coming,” Holmes says. “The guest artists serve as a great resource not only to help teach us new important things in master classes, but to spread the word that Dickinson is doing something great in its music program.”
View video of the score-study and conducting class.
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77