ConCorda 2013 – Zoe Nagle

I arrived at ConCorda on the 15th of August, and since it was my first time attending, I can honestly say, I was really excited. I have played in a few chamber ensembles before, but never in any like ConCorda. I had barely walked in the door and I could already see that everyone was buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm. It was great to be surrounded by people who were genuinely delighted to be playing music. To make things even better, I already knew some people from home, but I was also given the chance to make loads of new friends, because I was placed in some sessions where I wasn’t familiar with as many people. When we went to our sessions, I was truly inspired by the teachers, as they were all so encouraging and helpful. I was so lucky to be given the chance to work with some members of the Acanthus String Quartet, and I really learned so much from them. As for the repertoire, there was a great variety so it was pretty much impossible to be bored!

I got to play a Boccherini Quartet, a Canon by Britten, Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms, and even play through a Mendelssohn Octet! In every session we practised the pieces in earnest, and anything we didn’t get finished in the session, we had time to practise during the breaks. We also had the opportunity to perform the debut of composer Sam Perkins work Inspirit, dedicated to Hugh and Tricia Maguire, which was especially commissioned for ConCordas 20th anniversary. I thought this was an amazing experience, as Sam really seemed to infuse the piece with exciting melodies and percussion, making it thoroughly enjoyable to play and listen to. It was brilliant to be able to talk to Sam about composition, as this was a whole new aspect of music that I didn’t know much about. But what really appealed to me was that it was such a non-competitive environment. Everyone supported everybody else, making the atmosphere pleasant and comfortable.
The afternoons and evenings were great, as we had different activities on every night. The first night we just got to know each other, but from then on, every night there was something different, whether it was ConCorda’s Got Talent, or a play through of a Mendelssohn Octet, or even a Zombie Apocalypse/ Harry Potter/ Wild West/ Circus – themed fashion show! Since ConCorda, my playing has really improved – I find playing in a group much easier, and my sight reading is much better. We also took part in Musical Theatre, which was extremely enjoyable. We did improvisation on our instruments and then made up a show by combining our groups and coming up with unique and interesting ideas and new ways of creating music. We made costumes and signs, and then performed the show at the end of the week. It was so much fun to come up with.

But I have to say the highlight of my week was the concert in Castalia Hall. The venue was absolutely picturesque, and we received such an amazing reaction after performing Inspirit. We then took our seats as various ensembles from the course performed their pieces, and finally we were lucky enough to hear the entire ‘American Suite’ by Dvorak performed by three members of the Acanthus Quartet with Keith Pascoe on 2nd violin. It was an absolute treat for everyone involved. At ConCorda, I made so many new friends and was able to work with really talented and inspiring musicians, and I really hope I get the chance to return.
Thank you ConCorda