It was wonderful to be part of such a unique study experience, in such a beautiful part of the world. Having the space and calm of the wonderful farmhouse in Provence allowed us all to work at our best and focus on making music and learning from each other and from Imogen and Wolfgang.
It is easy in London, where I am based, to be constantly running from one commitment or concert to another without allowing oneself enough time to process what one has learnt or how one has developed through a particular project. This week taught me to remember to take a step back from time to time and make time to delve a little deeper into the music that you’re working on. Of course it is a luxury to have an entire week in an idyllic location to do nothing but revel and immerse yourself in the music, but the memories of the week have certainly impacted how I would like to treat some future projects.
I loved working with Imogen and Wolfgang, and I think Andrey and I did some decent work in an area of repertoire we have not yet tackled together. It was challenging at points of course, especially in the new Schubert material we were working on which I have never sung with guitar, and which I found quite different from my experience of Schubert with a piano, but incredibly rewarding work. I also thoroughly enjoyed working on one of my all time favourite works, Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis, with Imogen and Wolfgang together. Singing anything with Imogen at the piano is nothing short of an honour!
It is, in a way, a more intense week of study than previous masterclasses I have attended, with two performances to prepare for in short time and multiple thorough work sessions every day, but there is enough repose within that time to just enjoy each other’s company, music making and the location we were in. I especially appreciated the presence of Wolfgang’s wife Eva with whom we had some illuminating sessions focusing on only the text.
Overall it was a week that I will hold dear for many reasons, musical and otherwise. Particularly memorable is the wonderful hospitality shown by our hosts Bryan and Pat, who cooked delicious meals for us and made us feel so at home. The combination of relaxation, idyllic beauty, intensive study and exceptional tutelage made for a very special week indeed. I am grateful to everyone involved, especially our hosts, my fellow bursars, Wolfgang, Eva and Imogen. Thank you for this utterly one of a kind experience.
The environment in Provence is, first of all stunning but it's also the perfect place to keep a very high concentration and focus work. The calm surrounding area, the beautiful house and the relaxed atmosphere was very enjoyable and gave a great creative power to each of us. It felt easy to develop an intimate way of working and also an intimate way of making music together. In addition Pat and Bryan and their whole family welcomed us warmly and their manner of enjoying the music we played was very touching. When we started working I needed some time to find my way into this most un-agitated of masterclasses. I felt there was the possibility to reflect and process all I experienced when singing and making music with either Imogen or Anna.
The quality of our studies was embossed with both the demand for discipline and also the freedom that we participants had, to evolve and find our own interpretation and way of working together. This led to an absolutely positive atmosphere where everyone was trying to search for the best. Through the focus on only four participants it was possible to work intensively on particular problems each of us had. I've done a lot of masterclasses but none of them was as helpful and fruitful as this one.
I had the most amazing time participating in the Imogen Cooper Trust masterclasses in August 2018. The environment was very special and unique - I could work in a relaxed and inspiring atmosphere with a holistic approach to music and art. Apart from doing my piano solo repertoire I had a chance to work on lieder having classes with a renowned professor, Wolfgang Holzmair. It was a crucial time in my artistic career and just two weeks later I became a finalist of the 1st International Szymanowski Music Competition in Poland having performed with The Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Being away from the noise of a big city helped me a lot to focus on my work and meeting such amazing inspiring artists made a huge impact on my musical development. The lessons with Imogen Cooper opened my eyes and helped me lead a way in a subtle and delicate manner which is such an important approach to a student at the end of musical studies looking for an individual voice.
Australia, Classical guitar
One of the most unique aspects of this experience was the very limited numbers on the course. The only comparison I had to date were guitar courses with up to one hundred participants.
The property in Eygalières was big enough to provide individual space but small enough that we all felt closely connected to one another.
Most importantly, the week was incredibly inspiring. It marked a return to the artistic fundamentals of music making (rather than commercial considerations which often seem to eclipse everything, particularly as a freelancer out of music college).
We were part of a community that valued the sheer joy of music. We studied at a depth I’ve not had the opportunity to experience before, due to the (incredible) level of expertise, the amount of time we were able to spend in lessons one-to-one, and the time individually to think/practice applying ideas without other distractions.
Because we had several disciplines working side-by-side (solo piano, solo guitar, piano & voice, guitar & voice), there was an enthusiastic curiosity to learn from one another’s unique perspective. For me personally, the biggest lasting impact of the Trust weekend was a reminder of the artistic values that underpin our task in music making. Amidst city life there is an inevitable demand to be highly strategic in prioritisation of time and resources, such that the pursuit of artistic ideals can often seem unimportant. Being in an isolated setting with likeminded musicians allowed us switch off from other concerns and commit wholeheartedly to thinking about, studying, sharing, and enjoying our art form.
The enthusiasm I received from the Trust week has sustained me through a huge variety of performing, touring, and project work since.
I do hope the ICMT is able to continue to offer this opportunity to up-and-coming musicians in the future. It is truly wonderful.
I had the most fantastic experience at the ICMT course in Eygaliéres - it would be possible to go on forever listing wonderful things, starting with, of course, all the ideas, inspiration and encouragement from Imogen herself, through the friendliness and hospitality from Bryan and Pat and all of the others helping out with the course. And of course, such friendly audiences who came to hear us play! The tranquility of the location lent itself so well to focusing deeply on music and art (practice in the barn was one of the highlights in itself, contrasting so strongly with the hectic conservatoire environment that young musicians are so used to). Another highlight, needless to say, was the chance to hear Imogen play the Beethoven Diabelli Variations in such an intimate setting (something which I hope can continue in some way in each edition of the course).
Above all, I left the course feeling so inspired and really enjoying everything to do with music, rather than feeling exhausted at all - which I think says volumes about the time I had there!
It is impossible to overstate how unique the course is in terms of its size (only two students when I was there) and the amount of time we had with such an amazing personality as Imogen, both playing and talking - I don't know of anything else quite like it. I'm fascinated to hear of the future directions of the course with other instruments working on the course as well as pianists - us pianists have a huge amount we can learn from others. I only wish I could take part in the course every year!
My stay in Eygalières has been so fortunate as I could not even have dreamt of taking part in such a unique project. It is a great honour for the students to play and to work closely with such a noble, creative, patient and fearless person as Imogen Cooper is. I believe it is worth to mention that the IMCT series of masterclasses is a tailor-made course for the real seekers and adventurers.
Growth fundamentally means an enlarging and expanding of one’s horizons, a growth of one’s boundaries, outwardly in perspective and inwardly in depth. It is a never-ending process but I do really believe that the earlier you start, the quicker you approach your final or, better to say, most desirable destination.
Imogen has tried to influence us with a desire for creativity and a mindfulness about our own musical capabilities; helping us also to find the genuine voice of our souls.
Having such a great artist as a guiding hand is not only a milestone in students' development but a priceless and rare experience.
It was for me a unique experience to be able to participate in the week of masterclasses with Imogen Cooper. Unique because of the teaching, so rich, so complete, so inspired coming from a pianist of world reputation, as sympathetic as she is gifted. Unique because we were only two pianists benefitting from the advice of Imogen Cooper during this week; and therefore we had the good luck of being able to spend much time with this wonderful pedagogue, working truly in depth. Unique because the living and working conditions favoured a complete and calm immersion in musical study: wonderfully looked after by our hosts, we had all the time in the world to play, in an environment that was both restful and inspiring. I can never thank Imogen Cooper enough for having chosen me to participate, nor can I be sufficiently grateful to the Imogen Cooper Music Trust that made this all possible.
The Imogen Cooper Musical Trust in Eygalières was such a memorable experience. Imogen Cooper is an inspirational artist and a world-class pianist, who is willing to use some of her precious time to pass on her knowledge and love of music to the younger generation. I have been very lucky indeed to be invited to participate in this week, where unlike more conventional masterclasses, there were only two pianists who worked for up to three hours per day with Imogen. Professionally speaking, this was a revelation: to work for so long, gave us the time to explore so many layers of a musical composition, from technical aspects, to more intricate emotions that stem out of the tiniest details. The environment was beautiful, our hosts were truly wonderful people, the food was delicious - all of these things enchanted us, allowing us to work with much enthusiasm on the music.
The week in Eygalières was an absolutely unique experience in every sense. The opportunity to work with Imogen at length and in depth is very rare and special on its own, and thanks to her extremely sensitive and open-minded approach, this week was not only deeply enriching, but also somewhat liberating. It was a week of really intense work, and I am not sure if this kind of very high but natural concentration would be possible to achieve in a more conventional setting - it felt as if the peacefulness and beauty of the place and the atmosphere of Bryan and Pat's house were intertwined and perfectly matched with the concept of this ‘master-class’. I am so grateful for the most wonderful and fruitful time.
I've never experienced something like what happened to me this May. It was a very memorable experience. Time stopped and our lives were all about music, friendship, silence and nature. Imogen generously shared her great experience, knowledge, musicianship and inspiration. We were the guests of wonderful Pat and Bryan, who took care of our every need, giving us unique possibilities to work with Imogen for long stretches of time and go very deeply into the music. Apart from the musical side, this week with Imogen helped me to discover so many new things about my inner world. It was definitely a life-changing experience in many ways and I'm enormously grateful to Imogen and to everyone who helped to create this musical paradise.
During the week in France, I experienced incredibly intensive piano lessons, where Imogen and I explored the intriguing sound-worlds of Brahms, Schumann, Bartok and Enescu. She helped me immensely with the complete understanding of these pieces and their best interpretations. It struck me that total simplicity was the end product, which is attained through stripping down all the performer's preconceptions, opinions and ego. Imogen's teaching was aimed at exactly that: following closely the score and getting rid of any superficial movements, phrasings and touch.
Apart from lessons and daily practice, we were also treated to incredible food made by our hosts, two lovely pianos to work on, sight-seeing and a peacefulness which one can very easily forget exists, when one is always used to loud traffic noise and daily travelling stress. Eygalières is one of the most serene places I have visited and it was one of the key-factors towards the success of this masterclass.
I am immensely grateful to the Imogen Cooper Music Trust for this incredible opportunity, which I will never forget.
What a truly wonderful and enriching experience my week in Eygalières has been. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from the phenomenal Imogen Cooper, whose lessons, ideas and advice were incredibly inspiring and really encouraged my growth as a musician. Not to mention having been able to reside in such a beautiful environment. I could clear my mind completely and be inspired by the beauty of nature surrounding me. It was an invaluable time for me and one that I hope other musicians will be able to experience.
I was honoured to have participated in the inaugural Imogen Cooper Music Trust week. I have attended several different master-class courses but this one was particularly inspiring as I feel a great affinity with Imogen’s fundamental ideas about music. I always learn a huge amount in our lessons about how to examine and interpret the composer's markings, how to communicate the structure of the piece and how to listen to myself. It was also a great privilege to be in such magical and peaceful surroundings, which focus the mind and allow the subconscious to more fully process information away from the piano. I think this is a wonderful scheme that Imogen has created and will provide a great opportunity to young pianists.