Hi, everyone! I just returned home from the InterHarmony Music Festival in Acqui Terme, Italy. It was two weeks filled with private lessons, chamber coachings, masterclasses, recitals, an excursion to Finale Ligure and Turin, and many opportunities to learn and connect with others.
I flew out of Des Moines on July 17 and met up with a colleague on one of my connecting flights. We had planned to explore Milan a day before the festival but ended up spending the night in Pittsburg due to a thunderstorm.
Luckily, we were able to arrive in Milan the next day in time to catch the festival shuttle to Acqui Terme. The two-hour bus ride was filled with mountainous views, fields of sunflowers, and small churches nestled throughout the countryside.
Upon arrival, we were shown to our rooms and given tours of the city. Festival participants mingled at dinner while waiting for the opening ceremony. We were introduced to the faculty and received our schedules for the next two weeks. Each day was filled with music from morning until night, usually beginning around 9:00 AM and ending around 11:00 PM.
Most days began with a delicious breakfast followed by two hours of practice. I brought Florence Price’s Piano Sonata in E Minor to work on in lessons and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1, No. 1 to play with my chamber group. In addition to studying with my current professor, I had lessons with professors from Florida and California.
Masterclasses often followed lunch and we could sign up to perform or just stop by to listen. I learned a lot by playing in Saleem Ashkar’s masterclass and by sitting in the audience of many others. Rehearsals for chamber groups were before dinner and gave us time to get to know our new partners. We had time to work through our movement as well as get to know each other as musicians and people.
Most days ended with a recital beginning at 9:30 PM and included performances by students, faculty, and special guests. I performed Villa-Lobos’s Impressões seresteiras at one of the student recitals and heard many great performances by faculty and students. Some of my favorites were Favolov’s Concert Fantasy on Theme from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Op. 19 and Dvořák's Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81.
Despite the intense schedule, there was still time to explore the city and meet friends for gelato. There were also two excision days, the first to Milo/Finale Ligure and the second to Turin.
After the festival, I decided to spend a few extra days exploring Italy and visited Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Milan. One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the church where Antonio Vivaldi was baptized and the Ospedale della Pietà where he worked. Having played the harpsichord for Vivaldi's Four Seasons in 2011 with the Des Moines Youth Symphony Orchestra, this holds a special place in my heart!
Hopefully you have enjoyed hearing about my experience in Italy! There are many festivals abroad and close-to-home that can provide opportunities for growth and open our minds to new possibilities.
Luke Most serves on the Mobile Music Lessons piano faculty and is currently pursuing a master of music degree in piano performance. Learn more about him at mobilemusiclessons.com/faculty.