I’m at the Summer Arts Institute hosted by the International Arts Educators Forum in Citta di Castello, Italy. The mix of dancers, musicians and composers is invigorating. Composers from the states include Charles Nichols, Loretta Notareschi, as well as Carlos Delgado and Orlando Legname. Thus far we’ve had a number of very interesting presentations from composers who work in a wide variety of styles (I present on Friday).
I’ve also had enough downtime to be able to actually compose! Our host institution, the Scuola Comunale di Musica “Giacomo Puccini” is situated on the top two floors of a large old building in Citta di Castello. There are a number of rooms that aren’t being used for the conference, so I’ve staked a claim on the third floor and spent the last three mornings working on a new commission for symphonic band.
The most important part of conferences and festivals are the communal meals and get-togethers, when we have the chance to interact with our colleagues in a very casual way. Each evening we gather to share a delicious meal (and wine, of course) and to exchange ideas about teaching, the creative process, collaboration and the business of being an artist. I appreciate feeling like I’m part of something bigger than myself and being reminded that the challenges we all face as teachers and artists aren’t unique to any of us!
Everything comes to a halt for a couple of hours in the afternoons; shops close and a town ordinance forbids excessive noise (especially playing music at the scuola!) These breaks have given the participants a chance to explore this very charming town. Of course, there are the usual churches (very big to very small!), a wide open piazza, but most of all beautiful old buildings with green shutters over all the windows, wrought iron ornamentation and window boxes overflowing with flowers.
I’ve had two extraordinary rehearsals with Arianna Thieghi, who totally owns Lingua Franca, the piece I wrote for her earlier this year. It’s been especially rewarding because she knows the piece so well from a technical standpoint and since we’ve been able to talk about the long-range trajectory of the piece (”intense” to “super DRAMA!!!”). The piece is hard in a technical, moment-to-moment sense, but the real difficulty is keeping up the fever pitch that is established from the very outset.
More to come soon on travel, food, music, ideas, and new friends!