ConCorda 2013 – Julie Leenane

As a first-timer in Concorda, I was apprehensive, not knowing anyone, and having no clue what to expect.
Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead.
Three different chamber music groups made it easy to make friends quickly, as well as get a feel for the direction of the course. It was great to play in a variety of groups – an octet, a quartet and a quintet, in my case. The music challenged my ability, but the standard of the other players really helped me to rise to that challenge. Playing with such a talented group was a great experience, together with the encouragement of our teachers, who were just fantastic.

Orchestra gave us an amazing opportunity to premiere a piece specially written for the course. Sam Perkin’s Inspirit was innovative, challenging, unconventional and seriously cool to play. All sorts of popping, clapping, plucking, slapping and vocals blended with our playing to create a fantastic tribute to the founders of Concorda. Trying to get it all in time certainly made rehearsals less than ordinary! When we got all glammed up in our black concert gear to play in Castalia Hall, it met with a triumphant reception. It’s not every day you get to play a piece that no-one else has ever performed.
Another key part of the course was Musical Theatre, a completely new endeavour for me, totally outside my comfort zone. It was a creative way to explore different methods of using our instruments, improvising and thinking outside the musical box, a real confidence booster. More importantly, we put on a really great show at the end of it, and had loads of fun! Pretending to be angry lions instead of practising hemidemisemiquavers? Of course! Neglecting our duties as serious musicians, and instead having a great time creating something really special? Obviously! Am I making it all sound very silly? It was!
Aside from all the practising and performing, Concorda also gave us plenty of free time to hang out with friends, go to the shop, play soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, head into Kilkenny for an afternoon, do yoga, make props, have a fashion show and a quiz involving marshmallow-and-spaghetti towers, …I could go on.
Another highlight was the masterclass given by Marc Danel to Acanthus, the quartet-in-residence from Amsterdam. Hearing them play and having them teach us was hugely beneficial. Aside from that, we had great fun transforming them into a zombie king, clown, witch and cowgirl (respectively) for the fashion show! They were hilarious in Concorda’s Got Talent, and took it in good heart when they were mercilessly mimicked!

Overall, the atmosphere in Concorda was brilliant. I remember looking around as we sat outside one evening, eating pizza and singing pop songs as our composer-in-residence played guitar, and thinking there was nowhere else I’d rather be. A challenging, inspiring course that was ultimately very beneficial to me as a player, Concorda managed to find the perfect balance between the hard work of playing, and making it one of the best weeks of the summer.
See you guys next year, can’t wait!