Thank you so much for once again giving me the wonderful opportunity to attend the Arpeggione Viola Course, which took place in the brilliant Milden Hall in Suffolk. As I believe I have stated previously, the course gets better and better each year.

As I was now one of the oldest on the Intermediate course I started the week giving tours of the Milden Hall grounds to some of the younger violists, as well as making sure they found some friends. Over the course we enjoyed orchestra, technical warm-ups, masterclasses and recitals, however, the main focus was on chamber music.

In my Chamber A group we played Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens, brilliantly arranged for four violas. This is now one of my favourite pieces, due to the fact that it is so unique yet still maintains the lilt of a waltz, was so suited to four violas and was so much fun to play. My Chamber B piece was a Beatles Medley, which we played in a larger group, and consisted of songs from “Yesterday” to “When I’m Sixty-four”. We all learned the important skill of managing to play together in larger groups without the help of a conductor.

We were able to have rounded views of both chamber pieces due to the rotation system that meant we were coached by all of the resident and visiting teachers at some point. They all made different contributions to our pieces, allowing us to make our own musical decisions as a group for the end result.

To make this course even more memorable I won this year’s concerto competition, having come runner-up for the last two years. This gave me the amazing opportunity to play the Monti Czardas with an orchestra, an exhilarating experience I will never forget.

We made the most of the amazing surroundings Milden Hall has to offer, doing sports, crafts and, of course, the Easter egg hunt, where everybody suddenly became very competitive! The country air was very refreshing, allowing us to do our morning warm-ups outside, with chickens by our feet.

Overall, not only has Arpeggione been extremely enjoyable, allowing me to meet like-minded violists, but it has challenged and improved my ability as a chamber musician. None of this would have been possible without the astounding generosity of the JDCMF and Mr John Nicholls, to whom I am so grateful.


Joan Dickson Chamber Music Fund