The following is an essay that I wrote for the organizations from whom I received scholarships this year. It describes my experience at Meadowmount this summer:
This summer I attended the Meadowmount School of Music, a 7-week summer music intensive for string players and pianists, founded by Ivan Galamian in 1944. Meadowmount is located in upstate New York and is nestled in the Adirondacks in an extremely rural area. A few mishaps occurred early in my stay, which illustrate how rural and rustic it is there.
When I arrived at Meadowmount, I was soaked to my bones because of the pouring rain while walking a half-mile to my dorm. My rain jacket was folded nicely inside the box I had mailed off ahead of me. I was looking forward to a change of dry clothes, but when I arrived at my door, I discovered that the key to my room did not work. I had to walk another mile to Main House and back (in the rain), and when I finally got into my room several hours later, I discovered that the electricity to my room wasn’t working. The problem was not fixed for about a week, but fortunately I had my flashlight! Second, the next morning I was awakened at 4:50am by the cows from the farm across the street mooing persistently right out side my window. This was about the nicest wake-up I got the whole summer. The regular Meadowmount wake-up consists of counselors banging on everyone’s door, banging on trashcans and yelling “seven o’clock!” I love Meadowmount! J
Meadowmount is known as the “Musical Boot Camp of the World”. I discovered that this subtitle is not unjustified, and as rumors tell it, Meadowmount is indeed rigorous, strenuous, and exhausting. The daily routine consisted of at least 5 hours of individual practice in addition to private lessons, masterclasses, coachings, group lessons, chamber rehearsals, seminars, and recitals. I studied with Amy Barlowe (BM, MM Juilliard) and learned a tremendous amount from her, as I did the summer before.
While at Meadowmount I had the opportunity to participate in two quartets, playing viola in the second one. Learning viola was very time consuming at first but it became much easier as time progressed. My chamber coaches were Ann Setzer of Juilliard and Alan Bodman from Cleveland. My two chamber groups worked on quartets by Mendelssohn and Schumann. While at Meadowmount I had the opportunity to take private lessons from William Van der Sloot (Royal Conservatory) and Richard Roberts (Montreal Symphony concertmaster). With Mr. Roberts I worked on my PYP excerpts, for our seating auditions.
Most of the students at Meadowmount are already in conservatory, (Curtis, Juilliard, Cleveland Institute, Northwestern, San Fransisco and Central Conservatory in Bejing) or music pre-college such as Juilliard. It was so incredibly inspiring being surrounded by such musicians. Their level of playing, accomplishment, and enthusiasm all motivated me to work even harder and kept pushing myself to the next level. This summer, I heard James Ehnes, Joseph Silverstein, and numerous other guest artists in chamber music and solo performances and Masterclasses. One of the highlights of the summer was the recitals given 3 times a week by selected Meadowmount students. At the masterclasses and recitals it was very influential to listen to superb performances of nearly all the golden nuggets of violin repertoire and then run back to my room, pour over my notes and practice like crazy until curfew. These experiences helped me improve immensely. My improvement will translate into my chamber and orchestral playing, enhancing my involvement and participation in PYP.
This was a summer of excessive growth for me both musically and personally. Besides learning my first Paganini Caprice, I worked on Wieniawski Scherzo Tarantelle, Lalo Symphonie Espangnole, and a Beethoven Sonata. However, I must admit that it was the many, many hours of etudes, exercises and scales that opened the door to mastering more technical tools that enabled me to play with more expression, freedom and personality. I have been very fortunate to have Ms. Barlowe as a teacher not only because of her amazing musical advice but also because of her involvement with her students beyond this, on a more personal level. She had many things to say about topics such as self-confidence, performance anxiety, life lessons, as well as an abundant supply of inspirational quotes and stories. Beyond all of this, I am coming home with many more practice tools, and ideas about how to use my practice time wisely. As my teacher here in Portland said, this summer was another “baptism in fire” for me, and indeed I had the humbling experience of realizing once again the caliber that is out there in the music world, which just makes me work harder.
This summer was by far, the most inspiring musical experience I have ever had, and I am very grateful to OR-ASTA, PYP, Beaux Arts Society of Portland, and OMTA for making it possible for me to attend Meadowmount through generous scholarships and support. I would not have been able to go without it. Thank you!
The following are links to a couple excellent performances by Meadowmount Students this summer:
Barber Violin Concerto, op. 14, performed by Paolo Dara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSeKS8YdFHs
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, performed be Phoenix Avalon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHKcPqLIzYU&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7esZmXEemGhP7N0NUPXsag