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Guest Features

Highlights from the 2017 IRMTNZ Conference

Monday, February 13, 2017

by Jenny Brown, ANZCA Representative

From the first moment when we received our conference bags to the last moment as we waved our goodbyes, the Christchurch IRMT Conference held at College House was a winner. Well-organised, informative and interesting speakers, enjoyable concerts and entertainment, an excellent venue that provided accommodation, dining and reception facilities, along with two medium-sized auditoriums with two lovely pianos to be used, plus friendly attendees... what more could we want!

Highlights for me were:

Julie Wylie, who took us on a musical journey which involved musical play with young children. Delightfully practical, we joined in many of the experiences that she would take with pre-schoolers to introduce them to musical elements in a fun way. Now we were energised, she demonstrated how musical play is the essence of music making, fostering spontaneity, emotional connection, communication and creativity. It revitalises our own inherent capability, thus helping the child to engage in meaningful, joyful play that opens up a world of possibilities and an inherent love of music. (I purchased her CD, which had user-friendly tunes on it.)

Two lovely concerts:
The first was in the new Transitional Cathedral, with Robert Wilson playing violin and Read Gainsford on piano for a "Rediscovering Brahms" programme. Two of Brahms' sonatas were played: Sonata in G major, Op.78, and Sonata in D minor, Op.108. These two sonatas showed the clarity of the cathedral's acoustics, with the venue matching the beauty of the music.

The second concert was by Read Gainsford on solo piano, playing a lovely selection of music that quite held us spellbound at times. The venue was "The Piano", the new Christchurch Music Centre, which boasts stunning architecture and acoustics. We felt privileged to be there and hear two of Beethoven's sonatas (one being the well-known Appassionata in F minor, Op.57), Schuman's Romance in F Sharp minor (Op.28 no.2) and his Vogel als Prophet no.7 from Waldszenen (Forest Scenes) Op.82. This was followed by a lesser-known work entitled Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus by Oliver Messiaen, and then three rhythmic pieces from Iberia Book One by Isaac Albéniz: Evocacion, El Puerto and El Corpus en Sevilla.

Two masterclasses were taken at The Piano: one was a Piano Masterclass taken by Read Gainsford, the other a Strings Masterclass taken by Robin Wilson. In both of these I found it excellent to watch and listen to the one or two skills that were picked to be worked upon with each performer, always with positive comments to the fore to encourage and heighten their self-confidence.

The Conference Dinner on Friday (20th of January) will always remain a special time for Ken and I, as we partook of a delicious meal in a beautifully-decorated dining room. This date and day commemorated our Golden Wedding Anniversary, but we were still very pleasantly surprised to receive a lovely floral arrangement from Ken's two sisters Dorothy and Helen (and husband Bryan), and a lovely bottle of wine from Joy and Claire on behalf of the Rotorua/Taupo branch of IRMT. The wine was beautifully wrapped in "musical" paper and happened to be from the Allan Scott Vineyard where we had celebrated our 50th Anniversary with our family just after Christmas. All present stood and sang "For they are jolly good fellows" to us, which we found a very moving tribute.

From sessions on the more serious aspects of piano performance to sessions full of fun, e.g. African Drumming and Healthy Cooking Tips for busy music teachers, this conference had it all!

ANZCA proudly sponsored speaker Mark Walton, who concluded the conference with a performance by Cheena and Mana Rae and himself of his composition "Fired Up and Raring to Go". This was exactly how we felt as we left... a wonderful conference!

Congratulations to the Christchurch IRMT Branch for their fantastic effort.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in Guest Feature articles are those of the respective author/s and do not necessarily represent ANZCA policy.