ConCorda 2013 Review – Tara McCarthy

This year was ConCorda’s the twentieth anniversary, for which a new piece was composed. This was the job of Sam Perkin, who visited the course to see the rehearsals and performances of his new work ‘Inspirit’. A very inventive work it was, being asked to write for a chamber music course, it cleverly included several chamber groups alongside chamber orchestra. Not only this, but we had the chance to use voice, percussion and droplet sounds among others! Learning this new work was a great experience, also we had the opportunity to perform it’s World Premiere! Most importantly, this was dedicated to the founders of the course, Hugh and Tricia Maguire.

As well as this, we enjoyed three sessions of chamber groups in which we had the chance to work through many great works such as those of Prokofiev, Mendelsshon and Mozart among many others. These three different groups could consist of quartets, quintets, sextets or octets. We all had the chance to work with teachers from the Irish Chamber Orchestra, The Vanbrugh, Acanthus and Danel Quartets to name a few.

All of this takes place in a completely non-competitive atmosphere, where everybody’s playing improves immensely over the week. It’s a great chance to play chamber music and if you haven’t played in a chamber group before, it’s the best place to learn to do so!

The quartet in residence this year was The Acanthus quartet. They inspired the whole course to sing snippets from Dvorak’s American Quartet by the end of the week. They did not hesitate to get involved in all of the activities throughout the course.

One of the all important events is the talent show. It was varied as always, with a mixture of entries from staff and students providing fantastic entertainment. Other extra-curricular activities include sports, sight-reading sessions, fashion show and the ConCorda quiz. These activities especially help you to get to know staff as people not just teachers, which is a great aspect to the course.

Music theatre is a session in which students come up with their own show during the course. It allows you to improvise and be completely creative with music. This is an important and original aspect to the course, like no other, especially since we as classical musicians often do not improvise so it provides a relaxed atmosphere to do so.

Nearing the end of the week, we visited the beautiful Castalia hall, where the orchestra premiered Sam’s piece ‘Inspirit’. This was the venue for the much anticipated performance of the Acanthus quartet also, one that was enjoyed by all.

The family atmosphere of the course is one that is never forgotten, whether new at ConCorda, or experienced at the course, everybody is welcomed to this great week. The friends that are made here are ones that stay with you and often go back year after year for the experience. Following my third course, I can safely say if you haven’t applied before don’t hesitate, you will have an exciting and inspiring musical week!

By Tara McCarthy