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Baroque and beyond - a taste of great things to come
This year's Peninsula Summer Music Festival hosted its third Academy, a part of the festival close to the heart of artistic director Julia Fredersdorff. As a young musician, she had attended similar academies in Europe in which "much is learned, great friendships are formed and ultimately the next generation is encouraged to shine as brightly as it can."
The marquee on the lawns of St John the Evangelist at Flinders
It was clear from the opening notes of Corelli's Concerto Grosso in F major that everyone present under the marquee on the lawns of St John the Evangelist was happy to be there, audience and musicians alike. It would have been hard not to be: a shady spot on a warm summer's day with an optional cooling glass of Crittenden's wine would have been hard to beat. Throw in Bach, Vivaldi, Handel et al and it would have been very ungracious to find too much fault with the occasionally uneven but always enthusiastic performances under the big top.
What followed was almost 2 hours of some of the most beautiful concerti grossi ever written, a huge task of learning for the 17 or so students over the 10 days of the festival. A highlight was Bach's Concerto for two violins in D minor performed by Fredersdorff and maestro Enrico Gatti who, along with Elena Bianchi, made up a formidable trio of Academy teachers.
Chatting to the young performers over the course of the past week, it was clear that some were baroque focused, with stars in their eyes and The Hague on their lips. Others were less baroque-centric, having to learn to adapt their instruments to the playing style of the 17th and 18th centuries, adding a degree of difficulty for the cellists for example. They had to learn to balance the cello between their knees (like a viola da gamba) rather than on a spike, and to hold the bow in a completely different way.
Every one of them had worked hard to get there and most were rewarded with a solo: nerve wracking but well-received by the crowd. Enrico Gatti, Elena Bianchi and Julia Fredersdorff had every reason to be proud of their charges, gifted musicians from various institutions who share a love of music and a fire in the belly.