An Exciting First Day at the Academy

The ABS Academy is the educational component of the ABS Festival. Early this morning, for the fourth year since the Academy’s inauguration, more than 60 wonderfully talented young artists arrived at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to begin their 2-week journey of exploration and sharing with their colleagues and with our superb faculty mentors.

For the past eight months, we had been preparing for that exciting moment – and I really can’t adequately describe how tremendously exciting it is – when the lobby at the Conservatory shifts from the quiet calm of a mid-summer morning to a space filled with such energizing excitement. Academy students from all across the country and abroad met each other for the first time, began to exchange ideas about the music that they will work on, made plans for a little sight-seeing during their one or two free hours over the next fourteen days, and shared their eagerness to get to work.

For many students and a number of our faculty, getting to San Francisco was a difficult task. After air delays, cancelations, and reroutings, our last faculty member arrived at 3:30 in the morning, not quite five hours before her first event of the day. And two students had to miss the first day entirely, all due to travel complications. But right on schedule, after a brief Orientation Meeting, we dove in straight away to rehearsals for the Mass in B Minor. The Viol Consort met and played through beautiful works by Purcell, Dowland, Byrd, and Jenkins. Our 22 vocal students met with their coaches, Max van Egmond, William Sharp, and Judith Malafronte. Later, the afternoon brought Chamber Music rehearsals – there are 25 different ensembles – in preparation for the Acadamy-In-Action series of concerts next Monday through Wednesday. Master Classes were held, followed by a very joyful reception in honor of our new participants, their faculty, the staff, and – most importantly – the Academy Sponsors that help to make this possible.

But that was not the end of the day! In the evening, the American Bach Choir met to rehearse Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and the faculty began their rehearsals for Friday night’s program of Chamber Works by Bach, Biber, Schmelzer, Schütz, Telemann, and Vivaldi. We loved seeing each other and all agreed that they are so happy to be back with ABS for the Festival & Academy.

What a great day it was! Now, late on Monday night, we’re all fairly exhausted – already – but it’s a wonderful and very satisfying feeling that comes after a full day of gorgeous music rehearsed and played by the young emerging artists who inspire us all so much. As usual, our turbo engines will kick in and we’ll be pouring ourselves into this massive and rewarding collaboration until the last note of the Mass in B Minor is sounded twelve days from now.

Tomorrow brings more ensemble rehearsals, master classes, and our first reading of the great 53-part Biber Mass that you’ve heard about. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there.

I’ll send the next update on Friday morning…