Sometimes we get the most amazing experiences in life by going on new adventures. Two months ago, I had the privilege to experience my first classical music festival. As a classical musician, summer music festivals are part of the normal annual routine, both as a serious student and as a professional. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I became immersed in this specific festival.
The Utah Music Festival, created through the vision of cellist Eric Samuels and flautist Alison Griffiths Samuels, offers a unique experience to its students. The mission is to give the students an intensive, focused study experience, allowing for intimate mentorship from the world-class faculty. This type of mentorship allowed me to not only become a better violinist, violist and conductor, but also to grow as a musician, person, and “team player.” Spending time discussing, learning and understanding the world through the eyes of a professional musician is extremely beneficial. I was always taught that if you want something of someone else, then you examine and duplicate what they do, first thing being the mindset. What better way to grow than playing, performing, learning, cooking, eating and sharing recreational time together?
I met orchestral musicians, chamber musicians, composers, graduate students, professors, and concert artists from San Diego to Turkey and more. Some of the notable personnel included concert pianist FÜreya Ünal, and her composer husband, Ken Walicki. Also, I had the honor to spend time in and out of rehearsal with Clayton Haslop, a former student of the legendary Nathan Milstein, and a violinist whose solos can be heard on soundtracks like Avatar, Titanic and Up. The experience of playing in an ensemble with performers of that level is very rare; the knowledge and wisdom gained from them is invaluable.
The actual music making is what it’s all about. The repertoire was chosen by the staff and students, something very unique. I had the opportunity to perform in ensembles as small as a trio to as large as a string orchestra.
The entire festival was one of the greater events of my life. From hours of rehearsal, to the comradery of great people, to spontaneous hiking trips, I blissfully drank in the quenching experience. I look forward to the future of the festival and all of what lies ahead.