Finding my Footing in France: Week 1 at Académie Internationale d’Eté de Nice

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I promise this is real life :0

I promise this is real life :0

A little over halfway done with my two weeks studying in Nice, it’s a perfect time to reflect on my experience thus far, and think about how to make the most of the time I have left!

I arrived last week at the Nice (Côte d’Azur) airport exhausted from travel and two weeks working as a counselor at the Young Artists Harp Seminar. Getting off the plane I had no idea what to expect. AIEN hadn’t sent much information about the schedule, logistics, or even how to get to the conservatory (Conservatoire National A Rayonnement Regional). AIEN was clearly different from any festival I’d done before – there was no student handbook or schedule, no guidelines for where to go and what to do. But over the past week, I’ve gotten used to the lack of organization and scattered administration. Though the ambiguity in overall organization is confusing at times, it allows each professor (and to some degree each student) a high degree of independence in arranging their own schedule.

Last week, with Emmanuel Ceysson, most students (including myself) had a “traditional” 30 minute lesson each day – some had 45 minutes, who elected to take a “Boosted” session. These lessons were open, so that anyone in our class could sit in and listen. The day often lasted about 5 hours, with nearly half of the lessons in French, and half in English. Unfortunately, my French isn’t very good, so after a day of sitting in on everyone’s lesson, I decided it would be better to just hear the ones in English! Within this schedule, every day allows for a break to explore Nice or go to the beach (along with practicing of course!).

Walking through the narrow street by the coast in Nice on a practice break

Walking through the narrow street by the coast in Nice on a practice break

Working with Emmanuel was an eye-opening experience. He wasted no time getting down to business, suggesting new fingerings, and speaking about phrasing, voicing, and sound quality. I worked on the Debussy Danses, Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique during the week. Ceysson has the unique combination of performing as a vibrant soloist, with an incredible mastery over the solo harp repertoire, and also having great success in orchestral auditions. His insights into new technical tools and flexibility in playing were helpful for specific parts in the works, and could also be used across new works, and in future playing.

A highlight last week was a concert at the cloisters in town (Cloître du Monastêre de Cimiez) featuring Ceysson on the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto with the Orchestra Régional de Cannes. The concert was outdoors, in the center of the cloisters, lit by lanterns; the atmosphere only added to the magic of hearing a mentor perform.

The stage is set for Ceysson's performance as part of "Les Concerts du Cloître" on the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto

The stage is set for Ceysson’s performance as part of “Les Concerts du Cloître” on the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto

I absolutely loved studying with Ceysson for the week, and found that listening to my peer’s lessons was invaluable. AIEN is ideal a motivated student who can create her own schedule and discipline herself in preparing to work with highly exceptional teachers!

Oh and an added plus – the meals are fabulous! Every morning we have a selection of pastries, mini crepes with jam or nutella, cheese, cold cuts, baguettes, and fruit. Lunch is the main meal of the day, with an option at the grill, for hot food, a large selection of cool salads, and an ever-changing and delectable dessert. Dinner includes a pasta option, or something from the grill, and crepes.

At the final dinner with fellow students at AIEN (from left: Ellie Kirk, Delphine Ribaud, Anaëlle Ziadi, and Elisabeth Goritschnig)

At the final dinner with fellow students at AIEN (from left: Ellie Kirk, Delphine Ribaud, Anaëlle Ziadi, and Elisabeth Goritschnig)

This week, I am studying under Marie Pierre Langlamet and will write more about that as it unfolds!

 

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