Thanks to sponsorship from Hidersine through the Joan Dickson Chamber Music Fund, I was able to attend the Arpeggione Senior course this year. I was placed in the chamber group for the 'Fantasy for Four Violas' by York Bowen, playing the 4th part; and the 'Hymnus for 12 Violas' by Klengel arr. Jacky Woods, playing the 1st part. Most of our time was spent working on the Bowen, as it was much harder and required a lot of work. The three other violists in my group were all very good, so the notes weren't too much of a problem, but fitting all the parts together and communication were the main things we had to work on. The first day was spent playing through the piece, getting to know who plays with who where, and which part has the tune since it isn't always in the first viola. On the second day, we had a visit from German Clavijo, and our group thought that he put forward some very good ideas that we hadn't thought of before. He also taught us how to match our sounds using bow and vibrato, which was very useful in creating collective colours within the piece. We also had a visit from Martin Outram on the fourth day, who helped us overall, as most of the selective work had been done in previous days with on-course staff. He really helped us bring the piece together, and helped us more in our communication, as we had mainly been 'stuck in our parts'. Throughout these days, we also worked on the Hymnus in the afternoon. This was a lot harder for me as I was leading a group of 11 other people as well as having a decently high part, so I felt a bit more pressure. Thankfully the group were very cooperative and understanding, even having some other parts take over in leading in places where I was extremely high up the fingerboard. I think the hardest part of the Hymnus was getting the intonation and playing in unison with other parts, but through slow and selective work we managed to solve these problems. I also played in a masterclass with Jonathan Barritt, playing the Fantasie of the Hindemith sonata. Since I hadn't played it with piano before, it was hard to fit the first time round. However, Jonathan suggested that I think of the piece as a duet, so as chamber music rather than a viola solo with accompaniment, which really helped to bring it together.
Overall, my time at Arpeggione has been very helpful. I have learnt a lot, particularly in creating colours with a group and how to communicate. Thank you again to Hidersine and the JDCMF for giving me the opportunity to take part in this wonderful viola course!