I am really looking forward to attending Musicworks in July and am very grateful to Thomastik-Infeld Vienna and JDCMF for supporting me and enabling me to go again this year.

And after:

Thanks to JDCMF and Thomastik-Infeld Vienna I was able to go on the inspiring MusicWorks course again this year and it was wonderful.

My three groups for the week were Mozart C major String Quintet, Beethoven String Quartet Opus 18, No. 5, and Mendelssohn String Quartet Opus 13. For the Mozart my coach was John Crockatt; for the Beethoven I had Daniel Cubero and for the Mendelssohn my coach was James Boyd.

The week began on the train up to Bournemouth where a number of us met and got to know each other as we found one another on the train, recognising each other as we spotted various instruments taking up seats. There was a slight moment of panic when we got stuck by the luggage and couldn’t reach our instruments to get off the train, but with a bit of team work we all managed to get off successfully! The tutors met the train and the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the course was immediately recognisable.

The traditional name game kicked off the course, which was then followed by the first session of the week. For this I had the Mozart with John. In the two previous years that I have done MusicWorks I have never had John, and these sessions were so inspiring as he was so encouraging to us all. He helped us to understand the piece, and he paid attention to detail, focusing on things such as the style in which the opening quavers should be played. We focused on the first movement but played through the other movements during the week so that we could get a feel for the piece as a whole. By the time it came to our final performance of this piece we wanted to perform and managed to capture all the things that we had learnt over the week, and were very proud that we managed to do this. We were also so pleased as a group because we made our coach proud, and managed to convey the beauty of the piece which we had discovered over the week to the audience.

For the Beethoven my coach was Daniel Cubero. These sessions like last year were hugely enjoyable and we learnt so much about how to play this brilliant piece. Danny focused on understanding the harmony and he taught us how to perform the dynamics effectively, and how to stylistically capture the piece. These sessions were particularly enjoyable this year as Danny was playing the viola in our group, so he managed to bring our playing up to the next level as we got the chance to perform alongside him. We gained confidence in performing this piece as the week went on, as we came to enjoy performing the piece and getting the chance to explain what we had learnt to the audience.

The sessions we had with James Boyd on the Mendelssohn were challenging, but rewarding as James gave us so much insight into how to perform this piece. He focused on getting us to emotionally feel the piece, and to do this he helped us to think of different analogies. He taught us background information of the piece, and demonstrated to us how Mendelssohn was inspired by the work of Beethoven. He focused on many expressive techniques such as using rubato effectively, and he also made us aware of the impact that using your bow effectively can have. We discovered that as a group collectively we were all using way too much bow, and as a result producing a ‘floaty’ sound. We found that when we used less bow, we made a much clearer and more concentrated sound, which gave the piece the intensity and expressiveness that it was asking for.

The evenings were full of sight reading, and particular highlights were sight reading early Haydn Quartets with James Boyd; the Mendelsohn Octet, and the Schubert Quintet with Robert Max and Daniel Cubero.

The concert on the last day was hugely enjoyable, but really sad having to say good bye to everyone, especially as this was my last year on this amazing course.

Thank you so much for once again enabling me to go on this course, and for giving me to the chance to learn so much, and helping me to improve my playing. I will never forget these courses and the invaluable things that they have taught me!


Joan Dickson Chamber Music Fund