Arts

The next session of the Corus Artist Mentorship program will run from Nov. 25 to 26. Photo: Remi Yuan.

U of O School of Music introduces notable musicians to teach one-on-one sessions

The University of Ottawa’s School of Music is abuzz with its revamped Corus Artist Mentorship program, which features prolific musicians aiding students in perfecting their techniques through sessions called master classes.

“For the 2016–17 season, we have invited a number of world-class performers to give residencies,” wrote Hali Krawchuck, coordinator of cultural activities at the U of O Department of Music and the event organizer,  in an email to the Fulcrum.

She elaborated that the series of four sessions “will include master classes open to the general public.”

From Nov. 4 to 6, Calgary-based violinist William van der Sloot, who began playing professionally at age 17, led the second such free session of the series at Freiman Hall in the Pérez Building, as well as at the Huguette Labelle Hall in Tabaret Hall.

Recitals in the first session included Mozart and Tchaikovsky, with virtuosic demonstrations by student violinists and renowned collaborative pianist Judy Ginsburg on piano. Other composers’ works being performed across the weekend included the likes of Bach, Ravel, Mozart, Dvorak, and Beethoven.

For new masters student Raina Saunders, who is studying the violin and was able to perform Ysaÿe in the final session with van der Sloot, these classes provided an unparalleled learning experience.

“As a student it’s great to have a concentrated period of time to listen to such candescent teacher,” Saunders shared. “I feel like you learn as much watching your peers perform and hearing the comments that a teacher has for them as you do playing yourself. So it’s really a valuable experience. It’s great to have a guest as outstanding as Bill van der Sloot.”

For van der Sloot, who has been involved intermittently with the U of O for what he estimates to be 20 years, the pedagogy of master classes is a reciprocal one.

“It’s so easy to look at it as a teacher-student relationship, but that fact is you learn a lot when you teach,” he explained. “A lot comes back to the person that’s supposedly the teacher and … that mentorship—one-on-one type of mentorship—is a really special relationship that we have with the students.”

The Calgary-based violinist also expressed how teaching his craft to the next generation of musicians abounds in fulfillment.

“The rewards are great and young people are fascinating,” he said. “Everybody is so different, so every time you teach the piece for the hundredth time, it’s been a hundred different people, and there’s a hundred new things to learn about it. So it’s very rewarding.”

The master classes are also exceptional for any classical music aficionado who wants to witness the immense talent that the U of O music program has to offer.

On what he hoped to accomplish with his students, van der Sloot believes that mastering the craft requires a deeply profound understanding one’s performance and skill.  

“So much of it is not even knowledge, it’s awareness,” he shared.“So when you’re playing, being aware of what you’re doing, (and) what is possible … your eyes are opened, and you see that it’s actually often less difficult than you realize to actually find it and to do it. But if you never know what is there, you’re not aware of it, you can’t do it.”

The next session of the program will run from Nov. 25 to 26 with both Jerome Lowenthal and Ursula Oppens on the piano in Pérez Hall.

Information regarding the Corus Artist Mentorship 2016-17 master classes can be found on the U of O’s School of Music webpage. For more information on each session under the Corus Artist Mentorship program, be sure to regularly check out the University Calendar (uoCal) for upcoming classes.